As organisations get to grips with a post lockdown world projects will restart. But it is unlikely that many projects will go back to a world the same as it was before lockdown. All projects that were suspended because of the COVID19 pandemic will need to look at how they restart. Some face a major change in approach and restart will be significant. Others may have had little impact and possibly continued progress during the lockdown. Even projects that continued during lockdown have some change to manage.
A project environment that needs to be created will have to take into consideration things like social distancing and remote working. The availability of subject matter experts and key individuals for projects will be a concern for some. In other environments, teams will need to consider wearing masks and other measures, that are demanded.
Those that go back into a traditional workplace may see the office space modified in line with guidelines from their organisation and central government. The exact nature of these guidelines and any rules and restrictions will be dictated by where the projects are located. Some working environments may involve wearing masks. But this could include social distancing or changes in office layout; including screens and other protective measures.
Many staff have got used to remote working and a new way of working. It is unlikely that whole project teams and any customer base for any project of significant size will have adjusted completely to a new paradigm. So, one of the key things for project management to consider in getting the projects off to a winning start will be how the project will be executed in this modified world.
Project type effect on kick start
Of course, this all depends on the nature of the project. Projects concerning IT, process change, or reorganisation may well have been office-based. They now can be more easily distributed to accommodate remote working. But major engineering projects and construction projects do not lend themselves to remote working. Physical presence on-site is needed at the point of execution.
So depending on the type of project and the sector in which you work this will have a key impact on how you map out the future of delivering your project. But regardless of project type is likely to be a new overhead involved for the project to help safeguard individuals. If you’re lucky from a project point of view that cost may well be absorbed by the organisation. But it is sensible to assume some element of cost and disruption will occur within the projects themselves.
In all this do not forget your stakeholders. They are having to adjust to new situations as well. You need to keep them informed of your intentions for the project. The previous communications route and schedules may no longer be appropriate. It is likely you need to consider new communication paths. You will be briefing them in a way that may not be familiar.
Stakeholders themselves might have become used to some form of remote working. The use of video conferencing and social media may help to ease some of the difficulties in communication. But in some industries, this may present some significant challenges.
Getting stakeholders on board and agreeing to new processes and understanding what they should expect from the project is something that can stand you in good stead. Hence this is an opportunity to update your communications plan and perhaps more importantly your stakeholder engagement plan. Defining how you will engage with stakeholders in the future. Communicate that to the wider project team.
Risk is a core element that needs to be considered when we starting projects after lockdown. Revisiting the risk assessment based on change circumstances is the first step. All projects will face some change in their risk profile. You need to consider how your project will address risks associated with COVID19. Especially with the possibility of a second wave and further shutdowns. Even without a second wave loss of key personnel at critical times during your project might be an increased risk. Risks will also change based on the changing work patterns and location.
Projects post lockdown will face significant challenges for all involved. This article covers some of the basic areas to consider. Each active project will have some impact. But there is also an opportunity for better ways of working too.