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Planning for the unexpected

Scrabble tiles spelling out plan

Any time you are working on a project you naturally are planning for the unexpected. But what about the unexpected that you cannot plan for? A good Manager is always planning for contingencies that can come up, and there are processes you have in place can assist you with this.

The unexpected you can plan for

No matter how smoothly a project is going, the unexpected can happen at any time. These can range from something as simple to very complex issues. Here are some practical steps you can put in place to make sure you are planning effectively.

  • Communication communication communication: No matter what situation arises, the key will always be communication. If you are staying in touch with both managers and employees as situations change you will find that everyone is up to date on process moving forward. Where you encounter issues is when you make decisions at a higher level and assume everyone will be onboard when you roll it out last minute. This just causes strife and it is easily avoided.
  • The project is running behind: By staying on top of budgets and controlling labour costs, when a project starts running behind you will have wiggle room in the projects budget. Don’t cut necessary hours as this will just make a situation worse. Instead pay attention to what is happening day to day and trim where excess is happening. This means that when you need extra hours to get back on track you will have the budget for those hours.
  • The project will be ending early: In a company there are always various projects going on and others in the pipeline. By working with Managers on other projects you are able to effectively start moving employees over as their stage of the project is coming to an end. By letting your employees know their future moves and involving them in the timeline planning; you keep them engaged and excited for their next step. You will also not be left with employees charging hours to a project stage that isn’t generating income anymore.

The unexpected you cannot plan for

No matter how much planning you put in place for unexpected situations – there is always something more unexpected that can happen.

  • Weather: If there is one thing you cannot plan for it is the weather. Between natural disasters and freak weather patterns, you can never know what to expect. But you can make contingency work plans for what your team can do should they need to work remotely. Do you have a space that you can use for your team if they are stuck onshore during an ice storm? Is there enough equipment for everyone? Can your team access the database if they are logging in from home? Chat to your IT department and local office to talk about capacity and access. Don’t assume that there will be enough for all. Know in advance and have a plan for desk sharing should you need it.
  • Your lead manager moves across the country: Personal situations can change very quickly – from spousal job changes to family sickness. This could end in one of your team leads needing to move mid-project. This is never ideal but it can be worked around. If you have a local office in their new city, they can always work remotely on the project. As long as they are included in the team meetings and have access to the database there may be very little difference with them being so far away. Alternatively, allow them to work on the parts of the project that are often left behind due to all the meetings your team is involved in.
  • Company mergers: Often mergers are kept under wraps right until the very last minute. This is good business sense as you want to make sure everything is 100% in place before announcing the change to the business world. On the other hand this can cause chaos on the project side of things. Understandably employees will be very nervous and it is hard to carry on with “business as normal”. The easiest way to work your way through is to keep all lines of communication open. Admit when you don’t have an answer and let employees know the steps you are working through to get the answers they need. When you have new information, inform your team so they are as up to date with any changes as you are. This creates a sense of goodwill and support that they will need at this time.


Whatever happens and whatever situation arises, rely on your team and keep lines of communication open. With your processes in place, you will always be prepared.

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