Project management of unexpected events (Söderholm, 2007)

Management of Unexpected Events

Söderholm, Anders: Project management of unexpected events; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26 (2007), No. 1, pp. 80-86.

Söderholm qualitatively studies in four cases how unexpected events are dealt with on projects. The author finds three most common root causes for unexpected events, re-openings of topics (mostly due to outside pressure, e.g., new definitions, new issues, politics), revisions of plans, and fine tuning of the project. Furthermore Söderholm identifies four different tactics to manage unexpected events. (1) innovative action, (2) applying detachment strategies, (3) setting up intensive meeting schedules, and  (4) negotiating project conditions.

ad (1) – Innovative action is an inside, short term action to counter the event, examples for this action are the shuffling of resources, delaying activities, and problem solving
ad (2) – Detachment strategies are typical MaxiMin-strategies, the project tries to make itself independent from the event’s consequences as much as possible
ad (3) – Intensive meeting schedules are set up to closely monitor a problematic work package of the project and to assure the best communication flow possible
ad (4) – Negotiating conditions and project safe guarding are mostly used by project managers to gain access to additional resources

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