No matter what you do, how hard you try or who you work with, something will go wrong. The best of teams with the widest resources and highest morale will still find themselves in difficult situations. (For all those perfectionists reading this blog, I apologize in advance for being such a downer about getting things right the first time). Fellow Project Managers, it’s a dark world out there!

However, I’m not here to make you feel like there is no way to succeed at work, or that all your projects are going to end badly. Instead, I’m here to tell you that adversities are inevitable, but you can choose how you respond to them, and it’s that response that will determine your success. Without resilience and a recovery plan, the slightest nudge off kilter can make projects spiral out of control. For this reason, good Project Managers must be prepared to deal with unexpected situations.

To illustrate, I’m sharing some common stressful situations I’ve faced while managing projects and how I coped with them. I hope that skimming through this list might help you reframe your experiences from the past and approach any difficult situations you’re currently experiencing a little differently. 

Stress

Oversight – This is a common reason why issues within projects arise. The problem is that the schedule doesn’t change, but something new needs to be done in order to deliver the completed project. 

Possible solutions:

  • Cut the lowest priority feature from the implementation plan
  • Change the requirements
  • Re-explore other design options. 

Direction Change - You get an email from the client asking to change a feature of a mobile app that is in the midst of development. Addressing a direction change is hard while keeping everyone happy. You have your team and the client pulling you in two different directions.

Possible solutions:

  • Consider keeping the viable tasks in the development pipeline and prioritize what needs to be changed
  • Suggest a Phase 2 for the new, changed features

The key is to be transparent with the client and explain the consequences this change will have on the budget and the schedule.

Personnel Conflicts – One or more people are upset about something, and it’s negatively impacting the team’s morale. Conflicts could be personal or frustration with the system.

Possible solutions:

  • Have a one-on-one meeting with the person or the people involved to understand the cause of conflict.
  • Talk it out as a team and see what can be done to alleviate the friction. 

Often, people just need to vent to get out their frustration. 

Falling Behind Schedule - Once the probability of making the next due date falls below 70%, the dates are no longer probable.

Possible solutions:

  • Cut features
  • Add more time to the schedule
  • Add more resources (note: adding more resources can actually be counterproductive and should only be done when absolutely necessary). 

For those who like to go against logic, or if none of the options suggested are possible, write your last will and make the date happen!

Low Quality -  Not getting what you had envisioned? Are things being missed? Is the bug count high? 

Possible Solutions:

  • Add more time to the schedule
  • Reduce the rate of work until the desired quality is achieved and pick up speed as you progress.
  • Perform work in iterations and have multiple check-ins.

Those are just a few examples of the types of things that can (and will) go wrong during a project. Keep in mind that No red light is going to start flashing when these problems surface, you have to look for them and be attentive to project movements! And when something does happen, remember the power is in your hands to respond with the best solution.

Your project is in good hands with Liquid. Let us see your next project safely through.

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Bhairvi Israni

About Bhairvi Israni

Bhairvi is a Project Manager acting as a liaison between Liquid clients and the internal team by coordinating all aspects of a project through its lifecycle. Her top goal as a PM is making sure the work we produce is on target, on budget and on time. In her free time, Bhairvi enjoys painting and curling up with a good non-fiction book.

Published Aug 24, 2016