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Tips for Handling a Project Management Crisis

Tips for Handling a Project Management Crisis

A key objective when considering any type of managing activities, with project management being no exception, is to avoid a crisis at all costs.

There are, however, times when a crisis is inevitable; it cannot be avoided or it may creep up unknowingly. When this is the case, attempted crisis prevention must quickly turn to reactive crisis management. In this blog post, you will gain an overview of points that are important to consider when dealing with a Project Management Crisis.

Tips for Handling a Project Management Crisis


The first step in the process for anyone considering crisis management planning should be a pre-crisis plan. As stated earlier, not all crisis events are avoidable but it is important to have a plan in place to prevent those that are. This will provide a foundation for what to watch out for in terms of early indicators, how particular issues can be dealt with to prevent them escalating as well as steps involved in carrying out thorough risk assessments. This will help the organization to identify risks that have the ability to accelerate into a possible crisis early and take steps to reduce or eliminate them at the earliest possible stage.


If a project management crisis persists and efforts at preventative measures have failed, that is where you need to think about “managing” the crisis. The following steps should act as a checklist to allow you to evaluate your current standing; however, the list is not exhaustive and each situation is different.

  • Start making notes:

    When a crisis is developing the credibility of information may often be questioned. All information received should be documented effectively with references to its validity and the date/time it comes to light as well as recording any updates.

  • Pick a team:

    A crisis management team should already be in place from your preventative plan however if not it is important to get this completed as soon as possible. Assigning a team will allow knowledge sharing about the issue as well as accountability on its current status. There should be a dedicated member of the team assigned to keep all members updated in terms of progress as well as the overall organisation or customers if required.

  • Reality strikes:

    It is important to be fully aware that a crisis is looming and needs to be dealt with straight away. There is a belief that if you ignore it, the situation will dissolve however this couldn’t be further from the truth. You need to focus on the bigger picture and take steps towards getting to that point. While it may be easier said than done at the time it is important to maintain and spread a positive “can-do” attitude so that hope is not lost.

  • Contain any escalation:

    Once you know the information regarding the crisis, the next step is to contain further spread as much as possible. It is important to be decisive at this stage as time is of the essence and decisions must be made accordingly. As well as containing the crisis, it is equally important to constantly monitor any change as a preventative measure.

  • Communicate effectively:

    It is up to the project manager to distribute information to the entire organization, making sure that they are getting the facts as opposed to third-party information. This includes communication about the next steps as well as progress to date. In many situations, communication may be necessary with stakeholders outside the business also.

  • Gather opinions:

    Although you may be the project manager, other members of the team may have valuable input on measures to help eliminate the crisis or stop its progression. It is important to listen to others and ask them for their opinions.


The work doesn’t end once the crisis is eliminated, suitable post-crisis steps are equally important as an addition to future prevention. A report should be completed outlining what happened, including everything that worked in your favor and everything that didn’t go to plan. Lessons learned are important for all aspects of business and help considerably should a similar situation arise again.

Depending on the type of crisis some media coverage may be required such as a press release. If the crisis was in the public eye it is important to address it publicly.