Applying Project Management Principles to the COVID-19. Project Part 2: Planning

Apr 16, 2020 | Change management, Project management

In my previous article I described that in early 2019, the Trump administration should have initiated multiple projects to address an pandemic.  For example, a project charter to “Recommend Future Stockpiles of Personal Protective Equipment, Ventilators and Hospital Bed Space” would:

1. Identify and quantify current stockpiles of PPEs including gowns, gloves, masks and other related safety protection.

2. Identify and quantify current stockpiles of ventilators that might be used to combat a pandemic.

3. Identify and quantify the average available bed space in a hospital at any point of time.

4. Analyze all available pandemic outbreak data using root cause and Monte Carlo analysis, probability and impact matrices and forecasting techniques to recommend future state stockpiles needed for PPE and ventilators.

5. Analyze all available pandemic outbreak data to forecast future state bed space needed should an outbreak occur.

6. Perform a Cost-Benefit Analysis to calculate the value of complete readiness.

Project Management Plan

The Project Management Plan consists of many sections including the scope, schedule, and cost baselines as well as multiple management plans that define how the project will be executed.  The Project Scope Statement, a component of the scope baseline, defines the product scope description, deliverables, acceptance criteria and all assumptions and constraints that will be used to forecast PPE’s, ventilators, and bed space needed.  In addition it would state that the creation of a virus test and sample or population testing should be excluded from the scope because it of its unique requirements.  Testing would involve highly trained medical experts to be a part of the project team and thus best served as its own project with a very narrow scope and specialized team members.

All other subsidiary management plans would state which processes would be followed and how change will be managed.  A massive amount of data on the current state would need to be identified and processed so that modeling tools can be used forecast the future state.  Multiple assumptions including forecasting parameters  and technical expertise needed would populate the Assumptions Log.

Project Risk Management

Normally, risk management would assess the threats and opportunities that would directly impact the performance m
easurement baseline (scope, schedule and cost)
.  A risk assessment of NOT accepting the recommendations would be prudent to lend validation to the future state recommendations  For example, the following risk events should be assessed:

– the number of first responders who might become infected and die because they did not have sufficient protective equipment.

– the number of patients that could have been saved if not for the lack of ventilators.

– the number of patients that may die at home should hospital bed space not be available.

The responses to these risk events should be placed in a deliverable defined and identified in the Project Scope Statement while others will remain in Risk Register for review and maintenance throughout the project.

Project Resource Management, Project Communications Management and Stakeholder Engagement Management

The management plans of these three processes would guide the selection of the project team and designate the communication approach needed to manage stakeholder expectations.  The project manager should be comfortable practicing servant leadership principles.  Servant leaders approach work by helping the team see and value the importance of improving the common good. Although everyone must succeed, the betterment of the community is the primary prize.   The servant leader respects repeatable processes and encourages the team to follow these processes.  A servant leader seeks truth and understands the importance of speaking truth to power.  Thus, a servant leader must[1]:

– be a person of character, one that leads with moral authority.
– put people first including team members, sponsors, and especially the community which will be directly impacted by the findings of this study.
– be a passionate collaborator and skilled communicator with a high degree of emotional intelligence; and
– have foresight in that they can see the impact of poor choices or threats that come their way in the project.

These three plans will summarize how the project manager will communicate, what they will communicate, who they will communicate to and the strategy they will use to communicate with all stakeholders.

In summary, the Project Management Plan will be vital to layout the roadmap to project success.

[1] Based on James W. Sipe and Don M. Frick.  Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership; Practicing the Wisdom of Leading by Serving, 2015, Paulist Press


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