Posted by Stefan
Project managers, especially those trained in a Scrum ethos, are extremely agile at identifying potential threats towards their teams’ success. Not only are there scope changes, client disagreements, and unexpected costs as projected threats, but everything from a company fire drill to a mandatory software update is one more reason why your project might not finish on time.
However, there are a few threats that some project managers never consider. Are these potential threats on your list? If not, time to start taking some notes:
Regardless of your opinion on the recent government shutdown, I don’t think any of us expected it to last quite as long as it did. Nor were we prepared for the shutdown’s larger effects on everyone’s lives, including those of us who work in the private sector. One of our project teams, for example, was unable to find the information he needed on OSHA regulations due to the fact that OSHA’s website, like many other government websites, was not being updated during the government shutdown.
Like it or not, politics affects your projects. Don’t ignore the daily news, and don’t forget to consider how it will affect your teams.
2. Cyber-related threats
Project management has moved to the digital era just as much as any other aspect of our professional lives. That is why we have to account for cyber threats for project management just as much as for everything else in the firm. How do hackers affect your project teams? Well, if they infiltrate your company’s servers, they affect your entire company. In one scenario, hackers waste everyone’s time by sending around those virus-laden emails which your IT office then has to follow up with (prompting more emails). In another scenario, an advanced persistent threat literally sucks up time on your company’s server, clogging up the works while it searches for information.
It’s your company’s responsibility to keep its security risk management systems up to date, and your IT team’s responsibility to keep malware, bots, viruses, and hackers out of your office. It’s your responsibility, as a project manager, to consider how hackers might affect your project team — and to always have a backup plan so your teams can keep working even if the office network is down or the office servers are compromised.
Too much downtime, right? No. Not enough. A Salon article came out this week reiterating the importance of regular mental breaks — even in the middle of the day — as well as evenings free from work and nights filled with mentally-restorative sleep.
Project managers, used to calculating time to the minute, often do not include downtime in their project plans — or if they do, they don’t include enough or they don’t allow teams to take it when needed. The fact is that, even if you don’t plan for downtime, downtime still happens; it’s the team member glazing over at his laptop, or the group who all gets sick with colds together after they stay late five nights in a row.
Plan for downtime. It’s the best thing you can do for your project.
What happens when you have happy employees? They tend to form and make stable relationships outside of the office, leading to new life events like marriages and babies. As a project manager, this is an ideal scenario. You want teams that are able to have evenings free to go on dates and enjoy life — it’s just that that very enjoyment of life leads to honeymoon requests and maternity/paternity leave.
Is this a problem? Only if you don’t plan for it in your schedule. It’s illegal to ask people if they’re planning on getting married or having a baby — so just assume that someone on your team is going to have a happiness-related life event at least once per project.
As you can see, nearly every aspect of daily life — from shutdowns to births — affects your projects and your workflow. Take some time now to plan for every potential project threat, so you’ll be able to keep your project on time, on scope, and on budget no matter what happens.