Prepare for the worst

project managers and sponsors must work together to limit damage from unwanted surprises

Bad things can happen on any project: Your major stakeholders fail to respond to project queries in a timely manner; a solution doesn't appear to be shaping up as you'd anticipated; a major decision maker suddenly leaves the organization; suppliers are delivering late or substandard equipment, materials or products. In all these cases and more, the project manager can be burdened with a sense of dread or futility. But inaction is rarely an option. The project manager has to instead find a way to respond amid pressure or threats. Dynamic project managers are proactive when bad news hits. They aim to take the swiftest route to get the project back on track. Seeking counsel, testing project assumptions and pre-empting escalation by engaging senior stakeholders are all key to success.
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