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GenComm: 8 Stages of Project Crisis Planning

Co-ordinating an €9.4M international project with 10 partners across Europe is difficult at the best of times. However, in the current COVID-19 crisis it suddenly takes on a whole new dynamic in order to remain open for business.

The stages broken into 2 phases are non sequential and each has a workaround if required by the partners to ensure continuity. In order to prepare for the unknowns and maintain momentum during uncertainty, we developed 3 options for each deliverable. This plan A, Plan B and Plan C approach ensured that we would not end up in a project cud de sac and would have alternative routes for the project.

Stage one Triage

We triaged the project defining the critical baseline data and analysed this to enable project operations. This provided immediate project and partner wide visibility into any changes that were needed.

Stage two Adjust

Focussing on core project principles we closed off all non-essentials, and implemented new project specific requirements. The team and partners then migrated to new communications structures and platforms internally and externally.

Stage 3: Stabilise

Developed a wider functioning governance model capable of immediate response and adjusted the baseline as and when necessary and importantly communicated this internally and externally.

Stage four: Sustain

We developed and implemented a remote working strategy with supporting detailed work plan that was used as the blueprint for the project. This plan included activities, dates, deadlines, time allocation, options, teamed responsibilities, a comprehensive internal/external communications plan and financial management plan.

Stages five to eight: Move to the New Normal

Post COVID-19 crisis there will be no ‘back to normal.’ We are in uncharted waters and as such have no ‘project pole star’ to navigate by. Those anticipating a return to pre-pandemic normality may be shocked to find that many of the previous systems, structures, norms and jobs have disappeared and will not return.

Stage five: Align

In times such as this, external changes will occur and as a result will have project impact and must be proactively managed. This stage also included regular internal and external communications and updating stakeholders. Temporary work changes were implemented, challenges and opportunities addressed and protocols designed and applied in order to sustain the project.

Having completed stages 1 to 4 the project team were able to carry out internal realignment of functions commensurate with the new working environment .

Stage six: Design

Reflect on project fundamentals.
One of our key aims in this next 3 months is to get the training programmes developed for the H2 and Low Carbon engineers, technicians and electricians in order to sustain this development. This is critical as many employees are on ‘furlough’ and could access upskilling opportunities in the new low carbon economy.

Stage seven: Transform

We are currently implementing the model we have developed in the previous steps to keep all the team, Associate Partners, Community Hydrogen Forum (CH2F) informed and fully engaged. We will also examine new ways to finance the transformation if possible.

Stage eight: Amplify

Manage all areas of the new plan effectively and monitor closely, ensuring milestones are achieved and KPIs are hit. Can we develop other areas or parallel project steps that are more exploratory to open new routes to success and eventually bring a shocked system back to normalcy. Critical that we keep the innovation engine switched on to deliver optimisation from our in-built agility, resilience and ability to adapt.

By making critical decisions, taking a lead position, being proactive and responding quickly to the COVID-19 crisis we have maintained the spirit of agility, flexibility, and innovation that has driven GenComm successfully to date. Without doubt there will be some areas of our emerging plan that will require modification and adjustments but the critical fact is, we have a plan, we have a sat-nav to maintain the project. This cannot be underestimated.

By providing leadership and direction, we harnessed the strength and reinforced the team through resilience and vigour, developing new rapid reaction skills and abilities. Through this 8 stage plan we are endeavouring to future proof and deliver the full socio-economic benefits of GenComm.

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