This is the second in a series of articles looking at the effects of Covid-19 on project management in the development and humanitarian sectors. For the first article in the series, take a look at the DPro+ Blog.
How will our experience of coronavirus
affect our approach to managing the time element of projects in future?
Even as Covid-19 is still spreading, we are already reading warnings of a second wave of the virus, and similar viruses to come in the future. I expect people in general will begin to view time differently. Will our psyche change to the extent that we see “normality” as a time punctuated by crises? Perhaps not, but we will surely prize normality more, and seek to make the best and most efficient use of our time.
From an NGOs’ perspective, we may well see
a desire to shorten the implementation time of projects – “Get in, get the job
done, and get out” could be the new mantra. This would reduce the risk of
projects getting stuck in implementation if another crisis were to happen. How
will this change the way we manage development projects?
identification and design. I think the danger here
is that, in order to shorten implementation times, projects will become less
participatory and more top-down in their Imagineering. Good participation in
the project identification phase takes time, ideally allowing opportunity for
everyone involved to reflect, deliberate and reconvene when necessary.
Will such a process now be seen as too much
of a luxury in the post-Covid-19 era? If so, it would be a great shame. One of
the biggest challenges post-Covid-19 for development project managers might
then relate to achieving good participation in reduced timescales. Otherwise,
we may regress towards cursory participation in project design.
And so, to Project Planning. The Project DPro Guide provides information on
the activities of Sequence activities and Estimate activity duration. Moreover,
key elements to effective project scheduling, the Critical path and Project
float slack, are also discussed by Project DPro. In my experience, development
projects tend to focus more on the people aspect of projects, with time
management seen as less important. Will this change in the post-Covid era?
If time management does become a more critical
activity, we may see the resource optimization techniques of levelling and
smoothing rise to a greater prominence in the development sector.
Finally, Project Implementation. Schedule control is complementary to
schedule planning and includes making rectifications to the project to correct
deviations from the schedule plan. The Project DPro Guide covers the schedule
compression techniques of crashing and fast tracking. Like resource
optimization techniques, will schedule compression be more widely used in
development due to a desire to get the job done quickly?
Take a few minutes to think about whether
your own attitude to time has changed. How will your project time management be
different when life returns to normal after coronavirus?
Pages 103-115 of the Project DPro Guide address project schedule planning activities, and pages 134-136 discuss managing the project schedule, including the activities of crashing and fast tracking.