Project Management Skills Training – Contingency Planning

by ltconsulting on September 18, 2012

Managing projects is not easy, but it is a crucial task in the workplace. Our Project Management training course will present delegates with useful strategies that will assist them with:

  • organising projects
  • improving project management skills
  • managing projects effectively
  • project planning
  • becoming a great project manager

With ever-increasing workloads and deadlines, the ability to manage our time has never been more important. Project management is a crucial factor in work and our project management courses are created to ensure that delegates can make their work based projects as efficient and effective as possible. We do this by supplying a project management training course that is full of tools and tips for improving project planning, time planning, delegation, organisation and management strategies, managing meetings, as well as handling and using time effectively. Our Project Management Course will cover subjects such as goal setting, improving organisation skills and managing time successfully. Our seminars are packed with useful tips and techniques that allow you to become a better project manager instantly.

CONTINGENCY PLANNING

Since projects involve uncertainty and risk it is likely that you will need to develop contingency plans for key areas of risk. Basically this involves identifying risk scenarios which, should they actually occur, would have a significant impact on the ability of the organisation to carry out its business and considering what options are available to you.

An example could be a new admin system failing to go live on time. The contingency plan may be to carry on with the old system in which case you would have to think about issues such as:

  • Is this feasible?
  • What essential maintenance would be required?
  • Do we have the necessary skills?
  • When would be the next opportunity to switch systems?
  • How will we transfer the data?
  • What additional costs will we incur?
  • How will this impact our clients?

Other alternatives may be to carry out the process manually or to contract it out to someone else in which case many of the same questions would arise.

The number of scenarios likely to require a full contingency plan depends on the project. You are likely to need to invoke a contingency plan should you fail to achieve major milestones but it is unlikely there will be more than a few such milestones in any project. Contingency planning should not be confused with the normal re-planning necessary to react to minor variances in the developing project plan.

Contingency plans are your “Plan B”. They are there so that when a crisis occurs you can transfer almost instantaneously to an alternative plan, instead of having to start working it out when you will be feeling under pressure and less able to think coolly and calmly.

Contingency Strategy

Even the most rigorously planned projects contain uncertainties, or have elements which have the potential not to go as planned. In many respects the project plan provides an ‘ideal world’ outline of the technical developments and processes of a project working to time, along a clear workflow carried out by the project team.

Risk Management

Risk management is a systematic way of identifying potential risks within a project, gauging or estimating the probabilities of these risks occurring, to then develop strategies to manage them.

Most well planned projects set aside resources to carry out quantitative risk assessments. This can be put in place by adopting a systematic process of identifying and evaluating potential risks and using this analysis to develop strategies to manage and control them. This process can be broken down into three main processes: assessment, implementation and monitoring.

Assessment

Risk assessment is the process by which potential risks to a project are identified and assessed, and appropriate responses to these risks are developed. Firstly, a list of the uncertainties involved in the project is produced. Secondly, the likelihood of these uncertainties occurring and the relative impact they could have are assessed. Thirdly, the risks are prioritised and strategies developed in order to minimise their seriousness.

Identifying risks

It is not too difficult to think of a number of ‘generic risks’. For example, for a project that involves the complete digitisation of all data held in an organisation, a thorough investigation could identify the following potential major areas of risks:

  • Creeping scope – moving away from the projects key objectives as it evolves
  • Tasks involving third parties – that throw up unexpected delays or difficulties
  • Use of unfamiliar technologies –  or emerging new technologies during the project
  • Any part of the plan based on assumption rather than fact
  • Funder’s requirements – especially if they were not clear at the outset of the project
  • Institutional restraints – such as changes in budget, people resources, politics etc
  • Insufficient skill levels to process the elements of the project
  • Recruitment and retention of staff
  • Relevant staff development – especially with a new and inexperienced team
  • Supply of equipment – not meeting the requirements of the project
  • Equipment failure and breakdown – especially critical and expensive equipment
  • Equipment support and knowledge – when using new equipment
  • Changes in technology – depending on the length of the project and technology lifespans
  • Digital rights management – the laws and regulations relevant to document storage and retrieval
  • Clear workflow – of all those involved with the project, especially crucial project team members
  • Quality control – ensuring that quality issues are monitored throughout
  • Undefined goals – usually resulting from unclear project briefs and definitions
  • Compliance to standards – especially legal and company standards
  • Preservation and sustainability of resource – what will happen post-project

As you can see this list is not exhaustive but there may be a number of factors that may have minor or major impacts on the projects progress and feasibility. The earlier these are identified, the greater the chance of success of the project achieving its time, quality and budgetary requirements.

Risk Analysis

Risk assessment is not simply about identifying risks so that the project team and stakeholders are aware of them. It also involves assessing the potential severity of these risks, thereby identifying where to most effectively focus attention and resources in managing them.

In order to assess the seriousness of a potential risk it is necessary to estimate the rough probability of it happening and the impact, should it occur, on the project timetable, project costs and end quality of the digital resource.

Assessing Probability

Without the benefit of a quantitative assessment of the probability of an event occurring, an assessment remains largely subjective and has to be based mainly on common sense and experience. As such the assessment has to be ongoing and evaluations of the probability of risks happening revised as the project proceeds and the likelihood of risks happening becomes clearer.

Assessing Impact

Impact is the cost, time or quality effect a risk can have on a project. Whilst not a definitive guide the table below provides some basic guidelines on how to weight the impact of an event on a project.

 

Impact Cost Time Quality
Very Low Can be met with current funding Slight slippage of internal targets Slight reduction in quality with no overall impact on usability/standards
Low Requires some additional funding Slight slippage against key milestones or published targets Failure to include ‘bells and whistles’ promised to stakeholders
Medium Requires additional funding Delay affects key stake-holders Significant elements of scope or functionality will be unavailable
High Requires significant additional funding Failure to meet key deadlines Failure to meet the needs of a large proportion of stakeholders
Very High Requires substantial additional funding Delay jeopardises viability of project Project outcomes effectively unusable

 

Project Management Skills Training

The course is designed to help delegates organise their workload while planning a project. This is done with the aid of Gantt charts and project management templates, tools and techniques. This course is also a great option if you seek project management for junior staff in the workplace as it will informatively aid staff in planning successful projects.

There are many benefits of being a project manager such as; better task management; increased self esteem; the ability to negotiate more effectively and reduce the stress which results from a lack of effective planning.

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