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How to be prepared for when projects don’t go to plan

If the current global pandemic has taught companies anything, it is how to continually adapt. As government guidelines for business change as a response to threat levels and external factors, organisations have had to be proactive in implementing change. This has affected management at every level who have undoubtedly had to make revolutionary changes either to meet guidelines, or as a knock-on effect of working business to business.

Unplannable business situations don’t just occur during pandemics though. Everyday business and projects can be hit by unplanned events. Here we take a look at how to prepare for when projects don’t go to plan, and reflect on the lesson already learned from the COVID-19 situation.

Learn to continually adapt

Perhaps in light of recent events, you and your company feel better equipped to react to seismic shake-ups. For others however, it may be an ongoing struggle. Perhaps you are already reflecting on how you could have reacted better? By mastering agile practices businesses will find themselves better equipped to react to change.

Agile practices enable business to be responsive. Teams who are accustomed in reacting to evolving landscapes are well-equipped to handle project disruption. Agile training teaches candidates the practices they can adopt in order to be responsive and proactive when things don’t go to plan. Whereas in traditional methodologies, a considerable amount of re-planning may have to take place when hit with an unplanned event. An agile approach is flexible and adaptive and enables teams to deal with uncertainty.

You can find out more about our PRINCE2 Agile training here. We offer e-learning courses which allow your teams to upskill from home, at their own pace.

Take a closer look at your risk management strategy

Every project has potential risks which will impact the smooth running of the project and outcomes. By evaluating and understanding those risks, you will be better prepared for when things don’t go to plan. Now is the perfect time to take a better look at your risk management strategy. In fact, it is the ideal time to make a habit of regularly reviewing risk.

By routinely monitoring and reevaluating significant risks during a project you will be better equipped to respond in a timely manner, and in a way that is advantageous to the project and your business.

Though unforeseeable risks are near impossible to prepare for, it is always worth having a ‘worst case scenario’ or ‘in case of emergency’ plan on the backburner. This should detail measures you can put in place as a reaction to the business disruption of unprecedented events. A further ‘unplannable’ factor often overlooked in traditional risk management is human error. A recent article by APM states that ‘managing human error is crucial if you want to succeed.’ Human error is, on the whole, an unplannable factor, but their article offers some great tips for mitigating the risk by addressing it in your risk management planning.

Factoring in ‘outside of the box’ risks beyond those traditionally accounted for in risk management strategies can be of great benefit for keeping projects on course. When there are external factors knocking projects off track, pairing agile working with improved risk management is a recipe for success.

Build a team who pull together

Finally, if life during a global crisis has taught us anything, it’s the value of pulling together. As a nation we’ve committed to the cause by staying at home during lockdown, and developed a great sense of community, coming together to help out neighbours, friends and strangers; with the shared goal of staying well.

This is of great value in our work lives too. We’ve talked before on this blog about the importance of encouraging a culture of ownership amongst your project team. Essentially, how committed team members problem solve and unite in order to prevent failures. The key takeaway here being that there are incredible benefits of a team devoted to project success; and that by working together during challenging times and when things don’t go to plan, we can achieve better outcomes.