Project Management

I Give Up: What the Heck Is a Disaster Planning Manager? Part 1 of 3

Bob Weinstein is a journalist who covers technology, project management, the workplace and career development.

One thing is certain: Disaster planning is a far cry from meeting planning. Planning anything is relatively easy compared to managing a disaster. And that’s if you start off actually thinking a disaster can be managed. Still, it’s a vitally important job and one that can do some serious good, such as saving lives and preventing mass destruction of towns and cities. In fact, the field is so wide open, you can practically create your own job title.

The major problem with this hard-to-define job is that no one has come up with an accurate job description that explains its qualifications, both professional and personal. Does the position call for a combination techie/project manager who both understands the ins and outs of data-recovery software and can actually create a multitiered recovery infrastructure? Maybe the position needs a smart business analyst with an M.B.A. from Wharton who has managed a slew of multimillion-dollar projects. Somehow, I don’t think the Wharton image works.

Obviously, the job calls for a quick-reflexed PM with a good head on his or her shoulders who can rise to the occasion and take over in an emergency and make smart, intuitive decisions. Newburyport, Massachusetts-based project manager Lisa Olsen and many other PMs who have worked on federally-declared disaster sites would probably go along with that.

Still, defining the job of disaster-planning …

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That's the true spirit of Christmas; people being helped by people other than me.

- Jerry Seinfeld