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On Occasion we view a crisis unfolding on the worlds stage and you may have noted how the media pumps it up to further to engage the TV news and current affairs audience. For those who have the hapless task of managing the crisis this media attention often adds to the stress and ultimately increases the public driven pressure upon their decision making process. The BP deep water Horizon oil Platform disaster was a good example of how this happens.


Reflect on the importance of making key decisions in times of crisis and what the critical success factors are in framing well reasoned timely and effective decisions to bring things under control. What support might a manager of crisis event project be able to draw from their host organization; ie provide resources, (tools, modeling, meetings, etc) to assist the PM. Provide a brief list of project artefacts that might be made available to sort the crisis. What business rules might you frame to handle the communications involving the key stakeholders, government parties and media?

Crisis Management Techniques

In life, not all things that people plan move smoothly. While things in the corporate sector can run as planned just like a well-oiled machine for quite a reasonable period, at some point problems manifests themselves hence calling for instant intervention. Certainly, the severity of the problem together with its effects can literary brings everything to a standstill in the company not until the matter is resolved. For instance, catastrophic happenings like that of the BP oil spill, the crashing of the Sony PlayStation network and the 2008 financial debacle; all these are situations of emerging crisis which usurped all other urgencies (Ahern, Leavy, and Byrne, 2014, p.1373). Therefore the manner in which an organization responds to a crisis can have long-lasting repercussions on the manner in which it is perceived by its customer base as well as the entire public. Consequently, by being so much contemptuous to an issue or inconsiderate to the affected persons by the disaster can lead to more severe financial hit to the organization as well as the loss of both reputation and market cap. Thus, a crisis is an event that leads to dangerous and unstable conditions which can greatly affect a person, groups, or the entire society (Sage, Dainty, and Brookes, 2014). Crises are considered to be negative changes in the business, security, political, social and economic setting, particularly when they happen unexpectedly without any warning signs.   

With all that said, how does this connected to a project manager who is supposed to be responsible for overseeing a crisis project itself? What are the techniques as well as the most outstanding practices that should be applied by the PM to make sure the crisis project gets moving in the desired manner and effectively? As such, crisis management plays a significant part in project management. Crisis can happen in any project and at any given time. Therefore, it is important to make sure that there is a precise plan in place for crisis management. In light of this statement, this paper discusses crisis management techniques, and also gives some answers to project managers on how to prepare for a crisis in project management.

Crisis management is the process of identifying threats to a business as well as its stakeholders and the approach that could be employed to counter such threats (Ika, 2015, p.1111). As a result of the unpredictability of events, corporations should always be ready to cope with the would-be for drastic modifications to the manner in which companies undertake business activities. Therefore, crisis management demands that decisions are made in the shortest time possible, and in most cases after a crisis has already happened. Thus, to be in a position to decline the uncertainty in such an event of a crisis corporations often develop a crisis, management plan. In any business, it is important to be prepared for any problems which are likely to arise at a time when it least expected. The success of the organization is determined by the way in which it handles issues to do with the crisis. Even though crisis management only entered the field of management not long time ago, the truth is that it has greatly contributed to the prevention of huge management tragedies. Accordingly, crisis management is the use of approaches intended to aid a company deal with unexpected and noteworthy negative happenings. Certainly, since crises happen unexpectedly, it is important that organizations make quick decisions to curb the damage to the corporation. Therefore, in that case, the most primary actions when it comes to crisis management planning is to look for a specialist regarding crisis management to work as the crisis administrator. Additionally, there are other crisis management practices such as:

  • Including different stakeholders in all the planning stages as well as action stages
  • Establishing as well as teaching the crisis management team or even going for external crisis management companies with a well-known track record in a company’s corporate sector.
  • Deploying of monitoring system applications in addition to practices to be able to early cautionary signal detection of any predictable emergency.
  • Having detailed planning in response to as many possible crises as much as possible.

Crisis Responsibility

When something goes wrong, the most common knee-jerk reaction by most people is to immediately move into the destruction control approach in addition to taking defensive mechanisms. As such is a vestigial feature of peoples’ cognizance to makes moves to protect themselves from problematics situations. However, during the time of a crisis, such an approach is not the most suitable approach to use. The idea of acting defensively shows an impression to the public that one has something to cover or they are not carrying themselves in a compassionate manner (Cascetta, Carteni, Pagliara, and Montanino, 2015, pp.27-28). In reference to the BP oil spill instance, the primary obstructions of that particular crisis were the way in which the firm reacted in the eyes of the public. Instead of possessing the problem, BP Company all over a sudden started pointing fingers at other organizations saying they were also involved with the rig which exploded. Indeed, in the case of BP, the problem was a failure on the side the crisis management which cast the firm in a very bad light (Heravi, Coffey, and Trigunarsyah, 2015, p.987). In the long run, it ended up calling for massive restitution and a costly public relation campaign in an attempt to revitalize the firm’s tarnished name.

Accordingly, in view of the PM, some of these actions can be external to their realm. Nevertheless, the PM has to function as the one to oversee the communication plan, thus will require regular monitoring of the communication traffic. Moreover, regular discussion with shareholders gives a worth insight since it enables the team to suppress any undesirable sentiment early if it is done professionally and expediently.

Successful project management call for PMs to look for better approaches to handle, oversights, crises, mistakes, disasters and miscommunications (Fearn-Banks, 2016). Therefore, PM is supposed to have operational tools to plan and forestall for this predicaments. While these tools are not used daily by PMs, it is important that they are served with these tools in preparation for an emergency (Van Ruler, 2015, p.187). Crises management means that the PM has better mitigation means in place and preparedness for any crises. In this sense,  it helps to lower the occurrence as well as the management of crisis effects in a better way if crises happen. Therefore, some of the crisis management preparation tools plus project managers’ skills include contingency plans, risk analysis, table exercise and logic charts (Coombs, 2014). These tools are applied differently depending on the type of crisis and also require different support from rescue, police, fire and medical.

Most crises transform into projects after the deleterious impact id gone. For example, after the crashing of the TWA 800 airline in 1996, where no person was saved, this is accomplished as a project after the threat of outburst as well as other instantaneous hazards have diminished (White, 2016). Nonetheless, the concern here is with a crisis happening in the context of a prevailing project, instead of a catastrophe that develops into a project. As a result, project managers require extra tools to be able to respond to acute emergencies, thus in such a case is where crisis management tools turn out to be dominant.

Planning for Crisis in Project Management

Risk Analysis: It is a vital crisis planning tool which aids the PM to determine what is likely to go wrong, what is most likely, as well as what has the greatest effect (Costantino, Di Gravio, and Nonino, 2015, pp.1746-1747). Seemingly, the inclusion of an occurrence’s possibility of happening together with the rigorousness of the impact helps to determine priorities. The analysis of an incident helps the PM and the team to realize the trainings gained in a real-time disaster and then come up with plans on how to alleviate the consequences of a parallel occurrence in future.

Contingency Plans: Once a risk analysis has been undertaken, the PM will have to translate these risks into contingency plans. Therefore, the project manager has to ask themselves questions like “What is likely to go wrong with my project?” After identifying these risks, the PM should make a list of risk related to a specific project, which is the outcome of risk analysis. Then they can ask themselves “Among these risk which is the most probable to occur?” and “which of these risk will have the most severe effect?”  “On whom and what?” The question on whom and what “On whom and what?” indicates the susceptibility of the company to the identified risks (Kerzner, 2018). Nonetheless, project managers are supposed to advance plans which employ the use of data from risk scrutiny to organise them to and the company for a wide base of tragedies. Accordingly, the PM can appoint an individual to be in control of crisis planning to bind responsibility and resources as one, hence lowering the requisite to burden the already busy top managers with disaster preparation for a low-probability occurrence.

Logic Charts: Logic chart utilize project flow logic to notify the flow of the project with all reliance in an exceptionally supple, time-scale-independent diagram (Al Shobaki, Amuna, and Naser, 2017). Logic charts are a form of the expert system since they represent the decision-making understanding of specialists in a system which can be tracked down procedurally. Project flowcharts are the backbone of any peculiar computer-aided project management tool. When a crisis happens, individuals need procures to track it down, thus logic charts from a foundation for writing these processes.

Tabletop Exercises: Tabletops make use of evidence from the risk exploration in the justification stage to mimic the making of decisions in addition to cations to be taken during a real-time crisis (Kerzner, and Kerzner, 2017). Therefore a tabletop exercise entails the process of assembling individuals who shall be reacting to a disaster and acting out probable circumstances in advance.

Ahern, T., Leavy, B., and Byrne, P.J., 2014. Complex project management as complex problem solving: A distributed knowledge management perspective. International Journal of Project Management, 32(8), pp.1371-1381.

Al Shobaki, M.J., Amuna, Y.M.A. and Naser, S.S.A., 2017. Strategic and Operational Planning As Approach for Crises Management Field Study on UNRWA.

Cascetta, E., Carteni, A., Pagliara, F. and Montanino, M., 2015. A new look at planning and designing transportation systems: A decision-making model based on cognitive rationality, stakeholder engagement, and quantitative methods. Transport policy, 38, pp.27-39.

Coombs, W.T., 2014. Ongoing crisis communication: Planning, managing, and responding. Sage Publications.

Costantino, F., Di Gravio, G. and Nonino, F., 2015. Project selection in project portfolio management: An artificial neural network model based on critical success factors. International Journal of Project Management, 33(8), pp.1744-1754.

Fearn-Banks, K., 2016. Crisis communications: A casebook approach. Routledge.

Heravi, A., Coffey, V., and Trigunarsyah, B., 2015. Evaluating the level of stakeholder involvement during the project planning processes of building projects. International Journal of Project Management, 33(5), pp.985-997.

Ika, L.A., 2015. Opening the black box of project management: Does World Bank project supervision influence project impact? International Journal of Project Management, 33(5), pp.1111-1123.

Kerzner, H. and Kerzner, H.R., 2017. Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. John Wiley & Sons.

Kerzner, H., 2018. Project management best practices: Achieving global excellence. John Wiley & Sons.

Sage, D., Dainty, A. and Brookes, N., 2014. A critical argument in favor of theoretical pluralism: Project failure and the many and varied limitations of project management. International journal of project management, 32(4), pp.544-555.

Van Ruler, B., 2015. Agile public relations planning: The reflective communication scrum. Public Relations Review, 41(2), pp.187-194.

White, C.M., 2016. Social media, crisis communication, and emergency management: Leveraging Web 2.0 technologies. CRC press.

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