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9 quick tips for managing businesses and projects during uncertainty

During times of upheaval, identifying and managing projects can become challenging, especially when teams are disbursed. These nine tips can help keep teams moving in the right direction.

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When times are turbulent or uncertain, critical changes in circumstances can become difficult for some companies and their project management offices to recognize. But, it’s precisely crucial during these times that PMOs and business leaders need to pause and take note of external and internal changes because of the impact on ongoing initiatives. This is the time to revisit whether the current direction is still the right one and reevaluate everything. It’s better to pause than head in the wrong direction and over a cliff that may not have been there previously.

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Here are nine steps to take to manage through difficult circumstances.

Re-visit your SWOT analysis

When environmental changes occur, it should trigger the need to re-conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. Changes could signal that something that may have been a strength might now be a weakness. Something that was previously seen as a threat could now pose an opportunity. The SWOT analysis is key in uncovering how things have changed for your company and its projects.

Review strategic goals

It’s only in understanding where your company and its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats fit within the new environment that it can reevaluate and adjust its strategic goals. During times of significant change, seldom are companies successful without this step. Change almost always triggers the need to take a second look at existing strategies and adjust.

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Conduct ongoing planning sessions

As times change and create increased ambiguity, business leaders and PMOs should be engaging in ongoing planning sessions. This ensures they are able to continually keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening and be in a state of readiness to pivot as needed. What may seem like a great idea one day can quickly become the opposite the next. Annual planning isn’t sufficient, especially when uncertainty becomes the only certainty.

Reprioritize projects

The projects that are in motion today may no longer make sense tomorrow during a state of flux. It’s always a good idea to reevaluate and reprioritize projects during times of uncertainty, especially when tumultuous events hit. Failing to take a second look at current projects to determine if they are still valid can be a recipe for disaster. It may even derail other projects or your company as a whole. 

Become more agile

Success for your business, its teams, and other stakeholders rests on increasing business agility. This isn’t about Agile methodology. It’s about how your business is able to recognize changes, respond, compete and thrive during times of change and uncertainty. This is about creating a top-down culture and mindset around innovation and meeting the ever-changing environment that impacts project goals and requirements.

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Re-examine processes and technologies

Ineffective processes and technologies can negatively impact project requirements and success rates. It’s vital to reevaluate existing processes, workflows and tools to ensure they still support the work that’s being done. No matter how well-intentioned your teams are or how much buy-in you have, if your workflows or technologies don’t allow your employees to become more adaptable to change, it won’t be very long before their good intentions turn into frustration. 

Take stock of resources

For many companies, particularly larger organizations, resourcing may have worked just fine, but last year the tables were turned upside down. Virtually every company found itself under-resourced or resources became dispersed and harder to manage. Ensuring project delivery can be successful is highly dependent on having the right resources in place at the right time. The only way to do so is by regularly taking stock of which resources are available and when. 

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Adjust and communicate expectations

Once the previous items have been addressed, business and PMO leaders need to adjust expectations. It’s vital to also communicate extensions throughout the business units to each employee and stakeholder. The most brilliant plans are only effective when everyone knows what has changed and how they fit into the plan. Ensure total transparency to maximize effectiveness. 

Don’t become complacent 

The one thing that many companies and teams overlook is remaining in a continuous change and improvement mindset. Everyone, from project leaders to team members, is at risk of becoming complacent. When something big comes along and suddenly throws a wrench into project deadlines, budgets, resourcing and expectations, it becomes daunting to shift and rise to the challenge. The key to not getting caught off guard is continually reevaluating project requirements.

Keeping these quick tips at hand can help your company and PMO be ready to meet changing project requirements during times of uncertainty. 

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