Project Management

Small Budget & Big Ambition: When funds are tighter, teams must prioritize tasks and objectives

Hayley Grgurich

Is a global recession looming?

Economists and C-suite executives can’t come to a consensus. It’s unanimous, though, that optimism has waned and executives are tempering their expectations: CEO confidence in one- and three-year revenue growth at their organizations has either plateaued or fallen in all 90 regions in which PwC conducted its 2019 annual CEO survey.

For companies that want to remain competitive, that flatlined confidence need not send portfolios grinding to a halt—but it may well impact project managers and the budgets behind the initiatives they manage.

A 2018 Bain & Co. analysis found that companies that reacted more offensively across their portfolios—launching new R&D projects, greenlighting change initiatives, expanding into new arenas—emerged far stronger from a recession than those that shelved all but essential operations and waited for the recession to pass. And a 2017 study from the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research shows that a recession can actually accelerate technological change at organizations. That might be, in part, because project leaders are taking advantage of lower opportunity costs during economic dips to greenlight IT initiatives.

Retail giant Target is a case in point: During the 2000 recession and its lingering fallout, the company completed projects to build nearly 250 new stores, …


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