4 Steps to Successfully Dealing with Project Emergencies
Issues arise on every project; they appear at the most inappropriate time and may impact the project negatively if handled improperly. No matter how much risk planning was performed, there are often issues that result from technical specifications or unrealistic client expectations and can be hardly resolved by the project team.
Whatever the issue may be, the project manager should be able to prevent the problem escalation in a way that doesn’t sabotage the project.
Step 1. Understand the Issue Path
The project manager should understand what path the issue will take through an organisation. Ask yourself, where must this issue go to be resolved? Is one person enough to coordinate the issue or do you need the whole management team to handle it? Remember to document the issue so that next time when a similar problem arises, you can send it to the correct path as quickly as possible.
Step 2. Define the Issue
There is nothing worse than discovering that the person (or a group of people) who is responsible for handling the issue, doesn’t have enough information. To define the issue, ask several experts to describe it and document the received data. Make sure full transparency is guaranteed so that the correct people can deal with the issue.
Step 3. Determine the Issue Impact
Review the project scope and schedule and consider any possible changes that can result from the issue. Inform the team so that they can refine their workflow in accordance with the issue response plan.
Step 4. Use the Fire Alarm (in case of emergency)
If the problem is not resolved in a timely manner and there is a high probability that it will seriously impact the project scope and schedule, use the ‘fire alarm’ to involve the key stakeholders and decision makers in handling the issue. The fire alarm may go in various forms, e.g. a specially called meeting. But remember this is an emergency measure and make sure you don’t overuse it or it will be ignored.