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Returning to the New Normal

I am starting to prepare to return to work and to the new normal as we start to ‘flatten the curve’ progressively. I believe that our success as individuals and that of our businesses will be assessed how we have handled the situation in resilience.

By Emile Fakhoury
It goes without saying as project management professionals, we need to follow the local regulations and adhere to the new safety requirements in place while we return back to our offices. The new safety requirements could include additional monitoring and control measures that we need to adhere to.

This first phase will pass definitely, but what is next is more challenging and needs us to be well prepared.

• At first, you will need to continue following the business and communication plan set internally and externally and develop it gradually as business returns to normal.
Regarding the part of the communication plan, you need to develop a communication strategy to act efficiently as events develop. This should cover all who/what/when very clearly.

It is therefore important that you should regularly benchmark your projects/businesses with others in your industry for a best practice. What are others doing that you can do? What can you learn from them?
There are no rules set in stone, but it is essential to learn from experiences and lessons -learned and practice best judgment to implement decisions.

• The project manager professional should develop three scenarios for the situation and keep them updated: best-case, worst-case and most likely. This should be part of the risk register in place and should be frequently assessed and mitigated as time progresses with the various stakeholders.

Control cost expenditure and cash planning should be well controlled by the project manager in this period. This will help the business understand the project financial position to take firm decisions.
Cost should cover all sources internally and externally, along with the timeline of occurrence, same as for the cash collection. Businesses will require operational excellence and superior execution by the project manager professionals to survive and remain resilient.

The continuity and enhancement of customers engagement is essential for the project managers and business to strive and grow in the new normal phase. At first instance, you need to continue virtual meetings and start altering it with physical presence meetings progressively, this will help improve communications and make you more flexible to the normal while achieving the project objectives.

• You must be clear and transparent about the steps being taken in the organization to keep the projects progressing and delivering to the best requirements. Sharing the project schedule updates and outcomes that continue to change dynamically is critical to keep the trust.

• In conjunction with the execution of the project and stakeholders’ management, you will need to adopt empathy with the people around you and your stakeholders’ understanding their situation to maximize project benefits. Understanding the stress factors and conditions of your teams and your stakeholders will help you accelerate to the new phase without hassle and resistance. You need to continue communicating transparently and listen to the team concerns and apply assurance to each action taken in the project.

The business and market have changed during this period and once we return to the new normal, we need to be prepared to face more cost-saving, less expenditure rhythm in the 2nd phase and stakeholders will expect the same or better performance while keeping their return on investment and savings.

• There will be more reliance on local content in respect to supply chain for material and also local manpower to mitigate risks and reduce costs. This will drive extending the supply chain capabilities to develop at same pace of the cost-saving exercise and to reduce risk exposure.

We will strive absolutely from this phase and rebound to the new normal if we adapt a flexible style to prepare to return to normal while keeping ourselves protected to face a potential new wave.
Life continues to be a cycle of events and unknowns that pushes our limits to endure and strive.

Emile Fakhoury is a Project Manager professional working in the oil, gas and power generation industries.

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6 comments

  1. Great Article Emile, very thoughtfully written and straight to the point.

  2. Hameeda Mearaj

    Very good and practical points included in here, thank you Emile

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