Projects Paused, On Hold, Suspended Indefinitely

In the first quarter of 2020, the world was rocked by the sudden and rapid spread of COVID-19.  Even businesses with the most conservative approaches and extreme planning and foresight were impacted.  Projects across entire organizations were re-evaluated as priority shifts related to working capital impact and implementing new methods of consumer engagement came to the forefront.  In the United States, we are now entering month six of the new, COVID-19 impacted world.  How should organizations evaluate and progress projects that fell by the wayside earlier this year?

Evaluate early and evaluate often

In looking at the entire project portfolio of an organization, at the highest level, there are three categories: projects of strategic importance for the business to survive, projects that need to be completed to adhere to legal or regulatory guidelines, or projects that can be that can be delayed due to answering “yes” to the question, “Can we survive without completing this project?” 

The complexity of this evaluation is that projects that may have had strategic importance at the start of 2020 may have limited viability or importance now.  For instance, for retailers, projects that involve enhanced curbside pickup or eCommerce are suddenly at the forefront.    

A project has been deemed important or required, now what?

If you have successfully determined what projects need to be completed, there are yet more items that can still impact your ability to deliver.  Do you have the funds to complete the project?  If changes in work status have been made to internal project teams or external vendors required, do the right skill sets still exist to complete the project within the timeframe needed?  Does COVID-19 impact directly or add risks to completion of the project due to face-to-face interaction required?  These are just a few additional impactful questions, but many more considerations exist today than there were six months ago.

All projects can’t be on hold forever

While the pause button on in-flight initiatives may have been pressed in March, all organizations that wish to remain competitive in 2021 and beyond must regain their footing, and continue to advance core operational, strategic, and compliance initiatives to ensure the validity of their business.  Even if the how of getting appropriate funding and ensuring seamless execution are different, evaluating and advancing a wide range of projects will remain paramount.

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