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[CM] Step 10: Manage Project Deadlines and Milestones

 CMP projects are often viewed as having a relatively low priority. In competing with other projects for scarce resources, it is all too easy for target dates to be missed, and for participants to resist accountability for completing their activities on time.

This can doom a CMP project to failure and must be avoided at all costs. I want to share some of the tactics which can be employed to ensure that the CMP project remains on schedule.

Moh Heng Goh
Crisis Management Certified Planner-Specialist-Expert

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Manage Project Deadlines and Milestones

Break Activities into Measurable Tasks
IC_More_Step 10

New call-to-actionThe CM planning methodology has seven phases, each with detailed objectives, tasks, and deliverables.

To complete each critical activity, specific tasks must be assigned to individual members of the CMP project team. These tasks should be explicit, clear, and measurable.

In other words, the Organisation CM Coordinator must be able to “measure” successful completion through a verifiable end product of the task.

New call-to-actionNever assume a task has been completed successfully simply because it is reported as complete.

Refer to the table "Project Schedule & Elapse Time" by clicking the icon on the right.

Develop a Critical Path

Each phase of the CMP project consists of many key activities, all requiring varying amounts of time to complete. Some activities can be scheduled concurrently; others can only be scheduled consecutively.

By mapping out the interdependencies of these activities, a “critical path” can be developed that identifies those activities that must be completed on time to remain on schedule. While all activities are ultimately critical, those on the critical path will require the closest attention from the Organization CM Coordinator.

Determine Key Milestones

The Organisation's CM Coordinator needs to identify the key milestones and inform the Executive Management of them. The executive management needs to be kept informed of the overall project progress.

It must allow the Organisation CM Coordinator to highlight issues and “delinquent” business units or team members that may be stalling the project.

The key is to determine critical milestones that will interest the Executive Management.

Have Formal Status Reporting

Regular and frequent status reporting against the CMP project plan is essential. Do not be afraid to challenge what is written in the reports by the business units.

Often, you need to read between the lines to get the real story. The key is periodically producing an executive summary of the status to the executive management. This will enhance the credibility of the reporting objectives.

The principal job of an Organization CM Coordinator is not to monitor progress but to manage it. Because the actual size of the CMP project cannot be known until the crisis scenarios and crisis management strategies are determined, the Organisation CM Coordinator has to carefully monitor progress and promptly make changes to the CMP project plan.

Ensure Accountability

Each task in the project plan must be assigned to an individual, and he or she must be made accountable.

A common observation is that falling behind schedule will be inevitable if no one involved in the CMP project is held accountable for meeting target dates. This is often due to the task being assigned to a group of personnel rather than individuals.

Resolve Delays Immediately

Typically, CMP projects fall behind schedule in small increments: a week, followed by two weeks, and so on. Suddenly, the CMP project is months behind schedule.

Always make every effort to resolve delays as soon as possible. This is particularly important during the early stages of the CMP project when the perceived urgency is less.

It is important to remember, however, that a week lost at the beginning of a CMP project is the same length as a week lost at the end of a CMP project.

Conduct Regular Status Meetings

Frequent meetings of the entire CMP project team may seem counterproductive. However, holding team meetings every two to three weeks to review the status of the various tasks and activities is the most effective way of ensuring that the CMP project remains on schedule. These meetings will:

  • Provide an opportunity to identify and resolve problems
  • Help keep the pressure on CMP team members to meet target dates

This pressure can be reinforced by issuing status meeting minutes to CM steering committee members, such as‟ heads of the business unit or supervisors.

Timing of Meetings

The timing of meetings is critical, depending on your reasons for holding them. There are several factors to take into account. Consider the following:

  • The time of day will dictate how much time there is for discussion
  • The day of the week can affect people's level of interest
  • The amount of documents you distribute before the meeting will affect the depth of discussion and questioning
  • The number of participants
  • The participants who can influence the level of discussion and possible opposition

Meetings are a great way to receive official endorsement for your subsequent actions. But if they are not run properly, they can also waste time.

Lobbying the members in advance on any controversial topic minimizes the time spent during a meeting and maximizes the chance of an agreement.

Get It and Put It In Writing

There is no argument that informal discussions have their place in the CMP project process. However, if you will rely on any agreement reached during a conversation, it must be in writing.

Even if you consider the discussion formal, for example, a prearranged meeting in someone's office, memories are often inconsistent. If the outcome of your CMP project, and possibly the future of your job, depends on any agreement reached under those conditions, then you must have it in writing.

It can be as simple as a memorandum to the other person confirming what was agreed upon. It is sometimes safer to include a provision that, if no one replies to you to the contrary within, say, 24 hours, then the memorandum is accurate.

Remember to amend the CMP project plan accordingly and refer to the memorandum.

CM Project Management Steps

Click to find out more about the detailed requirements for each step

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Goh, M. H. (2016). A Manager’s Guide to Implement Your Crisis Management Plan. Business Continuity Management Specialist Series (1st ed., p. 192). Singapore: GMH Pte Ltd.



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