Responding to Issues in Highly Complex Projects

Joe Wynne is a versatile Project Manager experienced in delivering medium-scope projects in large organizations that improve workforce performance and business processes. He has a proven track record of delivering effective, technology-savvy solutions in a variety of industries and a unique combination of strengths in both process management and workforce management.

You can plan to avoid surprises for hours, but high-complexity projects always seem to have a sucker punch in their arsenal. Somehow, that combination of a large number of teams, vendors, stakeholders, interdependencies, cost sources, requirements and so on leads to an exponential number of possible things going wrong.

As part of your planning, then, it makes sense to develop another tactic—one where you would prepare to pull together a response team whose job it is to define the problem, assess options to respond and finally to select the most effective actions. If you have such a response team that can be pulled together quickly, it matters less that you have missed every permutation of issue causation. 

But it is difficult to know in advance who should be in the team so that you can prepare the participants. A particular issue in a highly complex project rarely needs "everyone," but instead needs a select group who can clarify and resolve the specific issue at hand. For example, an issue with relatively limited impact may only require one or two stakeholders, a few team leads, a business analyst and the sponsor.

Again, bend with the breeze. Don't bother trying to anticipate response team participants. That will simply be a response task in your response team action plan. What you know is that the response team must be able to understand the …

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