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Project successes provide lessons for post-pandemic world

I’m sure I’m not alone in seeing some of the projects being delivered in this time of crisis and being taken aback by the outstanding accomplishments that are helping in the fight against coronavirus.

NHS Nightingale hospitals, clothing manufacturers making PPE and hand sanitisers from breweries; to name a few.

Of course, these are just the ones that make the headlines.

As someone who spends a lot of time enjoying a privileged insight into the wide range of projects being delivered by our profession, I know there are many more under way supporting communities and helping to keep the economy running.

It was interesting to see the findings of a recent survey by APM reveal that, even after the introduction of the lockdown on March 23, there were more project professionals who reported projects being brought forward than cancelled as a direct result of coronavirus.

While this didn’t overshadow the high percentage that are experiencing budget cuts or changes to scope and timelines, it did highlight the fact that – first and foremost – our profession has the flexibility and resilience to handle change and can rise to the challenge.

The survey findings also emphasise our ability to meet new criteria for success in this climate, which for many, is centred around rapid delivery, while still needing to observe other iron triangle constraints. I doubt the reception to the NHS Nightingale hospitals would be the same if they arrived later this year after the peak had passed, even if they had still met their quality and cost targets. It was their readiness and rapid deployment that made them the success they are, by virtue of being available and ready to use at a time of need.

I’m sure this is echoed across projects all over the world, where the success of the project relies on having it ready to support organisations at a crucial moment (look at how the health sciences are working to find a potential vaccine at a pace and in new collaborative models never experienced or perhaps even envisaged before). This is impacting us all, however big or small. At APM we have found new ways to launch our online qualifications platform three months earlier than planned to enable us to support the profession in its ongoing development.

Achieving these successes in today’s climate demonstrates the value of a profession that can bring people, teams, organisations or even a nation together to deliver change or benefits on time, on budget and to the highest quality possible.

Looking ahead, it’s important we build on these successes, taking them forward into our new normal.

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