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Resilience as a Project Management Tool

COMMENTARY ARTICLE

By Ronald Look, PMP

Illinois, USA


You have just been assigned your next project to manage. The details fill you with excitement but mixed with more than a bit of trepidation, but that’s to keep you sharp, right? The project is in a deep hole. The project sponsor is not happy and demands a plan to get things back on track. Sounds familiar I bet! It’s not only familiar but almost cliché, but yet a fact of life on so many projects. In these situations you will need all your project manager skills along with a good dose of resiliency to get and keep the project on track.

We don’t usually think of resiliency as a project management skill or tool. In the scenario above imagine telling the sponsor that the team will use resiliency to turn things around. Say what! I don’t ever recall seeing it directly referenced in any project management training materials or mentioned in any seminar. Rather it falls into the category of the personal or soft skills a project manager brings to a project. Even at that it may be a more of a personal trait then a skill, think perseverance.

I had an experience with an IT project where perseverance and resiliency were the underlying factors that helped myself and the project team not only survive but to thrive. We were a new team formed to provide ongoing support for a just completed application released to production. I use the word ‘completed’ loosely. Many pieces were partially completed and needed more refinement. In fact the project would not be accepted until a long list of items was addressed. However since the project was over budget and its release had already been delayed, it was pushed into production. Still the application’s functionality was far from what the sponsor ultimately wanted, and felt they had paid for.

So the challenge for our Support Team was to fix and further develop the application to the sponsor’s requirements while providing ongoing support. This was a very tall order with the list of enhancements and fixes being quite extensive. No knight in shining armor was coming to the rescue. Nor was there any silver bullet that would solve a great deal of problems. Our team was in it up our necks, and survival called for resiliency by each team member and a resilient project management and sponsor communication approach.

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About the Author

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Ronald Look, PMP

Illinois, USA

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Ron Look
has over 25 years of experience as a project manager in the IT sector. He has 9 years’ experience managing in-house projects for a national insurance company first as a team lead and then as a group manager. He has 11 years managing projects as a Senior Consultant for an international IT consulting firm specializing in IT application outsourcing and project development. He has spent the last 5 year managing projects for an international retailer. He currently is managing infrastructure projects for an international insurance company. He has project management experience from the perspective of both a buyer and supplier of IT services. His writing has been published in PM World Today and PM Boulevard. Mr. Look can be contacted at [email protected].