Managing Through Layoffs

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Categories: PM & the Economy

The bad news keeps pouring in when it comes to job markets around the globe. In Israel, nearly 20,000 people lost their jobs in January. In Ireland, that number neared 37,000. And in the United States, it was a staggering 600,000.     
   While such details are simultaneously horrifying and fascinating, it raises a question: Who is taking on all the work these layoffs have left behind?
   In a recent article, Cynthia K. West, Ph.D., vice president of Project Insight, highlighted several factors that organizations, resource managers and project managers must face when job losses occur. They include:

•    Replacing resources on existing process
•    The loss of best practices, business practices and other knowledge
•    Assessing project priorities
   She goes on to say:

"The most immediate challenge that arises is the replacement of resources on existing projects. More often than not, projects in process still need to be completed on schedule--and within budget. The questions that must be answered are: Do the remaining resources on the team have the skill sets to complete the work? Can we transition these tasks without getting behind schedule? Does the organization have an effective way to look into the resource pool and know what skill sets the team members have?"
    So what is the solution?
    Ms. West makes several suggestions for managing these problems, for example she suggest organizations should put together a resource pool together to keep track of employee skillsets, while at the same time creating a knowledgebase that all employees can access and benefit from. It should include best practice documents, lessons learned, etc.
She also says it's important to ask the question, "Does this project help the organization reduce cost?" And then prioritize.  
     But what do you think? According to a recent poll here on Voices, more than half of our readers organizations' have experienced layoffs thanks to this global economic crisis. How is your organization dealing with  the mounting workloads--and making sure you don't lose any critical knowledge?

Posted by Kelley Hunsberger on: February 18, 2009 10:04 PM | Permalink

Comments (2)

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Kelli Hamilton
I am laid off as a PM in the IT/banking industry due to the current economic conditions. This is my third layoff in 5 years and the last two positions were outsourced to India. This makes it extremely tough for a single person with a home and all of the usual expenses. I have found that organizations eliminate PMs to save a few dollars and often try to have an engineer fill both duties. This usually results in poor communication and poorly executed projects. However, it usually takes some time before an organization recognizes this and starts hiring back the experienced PMs. I am really concerned this time around that it will take longer.

Dr.Ahmad Al-Ani MD, PMP
It's really a gamble, trying to cut down costs and in the same time continue the ongoing work.Some of the mitigating strategies you have mentioned already, show how knowledge management is as important as project management in these situations. A learning organization that keeps track of records, lessons learned, and utilizes a well organized knowledgebase supported by a powerful communication system is going to suffer less and could manage better through this crisis.This also draws the attention to one kind of risk management which is usually overlooked,that is risks related to human resources being laid-off, ineffective or replaced, and the knowledge shift or loss that occur subsequently.This type of risk management proves to be more valuable nowadays.

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