Home » Risk Management » Project Management Crisis? Hurry, But Do Nothing

We had a crisis. Another project had an emergency so we were losing a significant portion of our engineering staff to go work on that project. We had to act now!

Project management crisis hurry but do nothingWe were told to replan our project and to present a new project management schedule. No problem, we already had an alternate schedule ready. It was the schedule that had been rejected previously for the shorter one that was accepted. We adopted the previously rejected schedule and went on to deliver our product on time. One of our biggest customers told us that it was the first time in their memory that we had delivered a new product in the time frame we had promised it.

It was really fortunate we had a well developed schedule all ready to go. Actually, it was not fortunate, it was routine. Well, the part that was routine was that just about every project eventually had to respond to an emergency in another project trying to finish that caused newer projects to lose staff. The fortunate part was that we had tried to propose a schedule — one based upon objective data from just completed projects — but that schedule was rejected as too long. The humorous part was when we said we would use the previously rejected schedule, we also said it was ready to go and did not need to be updated. How could that be as we were months into the project? It was possible because that schedule already took into account the inevitable loss of staffing because it was based upon past actual project performance.

For more on performance based schedules see Get The Project Management Schedule Right!

If we had used the initially rejected schedule then when the crisis occurred, and we lost staff, we would not have had a crisis. We could have just stayed on the same schedule and pressed on. Actually, we didn’t have a true crisis in any event. Since we didn’t truly need to replan, just use what was essentially the same schedule with adjusted milestones, there was little or no impact to any team. We just continued on course with the staff we had remaining.

The one big difference was that our project never had a crisis that then pulled staffing from the projects starting after ours. That probably helped explain why these later projects went on to receive recognition and awards for “flawless launches.” Prior to this, we never had any project anyone would have call a flawless product launch.

Objective and performance based planning can take the sting out of our typical crisis. When faced with an emergency we should be hearing ourselves say “no problem, we anticipated this possibility and have it covered.” This may ultimately help other projects to succeed as well.

How well have you planned for the typical crisis that occurs in your projects?

Thank you for sharing!

11 thoughts on “Project Management Crisis? Hurry, But Do Nothing

  1. Brett Ossman says:

    Great post Bruce, as usual. 🙂

    I think most try to estimate based on past projects or tasks, but they forget the details and how long it actually took. Not only do they not account for inevitable problems as you noted, but they don’t account for ALL tasks they need to perform. Personally, I have a formal approach to estimating that others don’t, but, and I have been recognized for my accurate estimates.

    Pretty sure I will address my estimating approach on my next Real World IT blog, shameless plug. LOL

    1. Bruce Benson says:


      I find errors of omission and the assumption that there will be few problems are the biggest source of underestimating. People can get pretty good at estimating, but it does usually require some record keeping and a disciplined technique.

      Good luck with your blog.


  2. Hi Bruce – thanks for the clarification. Agreed! Good post.


  3. livestreet says:

    I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

    1. Bruce Benson says:


      You can refer to the post or use short quotes from the post (providing the url of the article) – that is normal and acceptable. My twitter account is Twitter.com/BruceWBenson.



  4. Hi – I’m not sure what your name is? It seems that the point of your post is that a well-planned schedule should have been accepted in the beginning to avoid a “crisis” later? Is that correct? But that the organization chose a faster schedule that you knew would not work from the start?

    1. Bruce Benson says:


      A performance based schedule has the characteristic of better handling the inevitable crisis that does occur. This is because the schedule takes into account all the typical things that do go right and that inevitably go wrong. Too many schedules are too short in large part because we always hope or assume that all the typical problems won’t happen to us. I maintain that a project will inevitably have problems, but it is not inevitable that these problems will impact the cost, quality and completion date.

      We knew the schedule that was accepted would probably not work, because it was a similar schedule to all our previous new products and they all averaged 3 to 4 months late (with others being 6 and 9 months late, none being on time).


Comments are closed.