And that you return things to a normal status quo as soon as possible.

Time is, after all, money, and this is never truer than in a crisis. It is essential for your organisation to have a major incident management (MIM) process so that you are able to respond swiftly to any significant incidents that occur. If you don't have a plan in place, then you need to get started on drafting one and courses for professional project managers are an excellent place to start in learning what you need to consider in your plan.

What is classed as a major incident?

To understand precisely what you should be considering in your plan, it is essential to understand what constitutes a major incident. This is something that is an urgent and high-impact issue that will usually have an effect on the entire organisation or at least a significant part of it. It will also usually result in the services of any organisation becoming unavailable, and this may mean that the organisation will lose money. When it comes to project teams, this may also mean that services across the board within the company will also be down, and employees will be unable to complete work, which can mean missing deadlines. This could ultimately mean that the project could end up costing more and that it will not come in on time or budget.

Major incidents - The four stages

With any major incident or crisis, there are 4 stages that will take place. These are:

  • Identification
  • Containment
  • Resolution
  • Maintenance

It is vital as a project manager that you understand what constitutes each of these and that your crisis plan includes strategies for dealing with each of them.

Why you need a process

A major incident, or crisis, management process is something that is an absolute must-have for any organisation. It can ensure that any business impact from a major incident is minimised. Your crisis management process should follow the steps listed above so that you make sure that you have covered everything.

●       Identification - At this stage, you will need to declare a major incident. This will begin the process that will see you following all of the steps that you have laid out in your plan. You should inform all of the stakeholders of the incident at this point, including your team members and any suppliers or users who may be affected.

●       Containment - This stage will require you to put together a major incident team - it is likely that you will already have identified these individuals in your plan. You should also make sure that you are keeping everyone in the loop. At this point, you should be identifying any of the issues that the major incident has brought up.

●       Resolution - At this point, you need to implement your resolution plan as a change

●       Maintenance - the final stage, here it will be necessary to perform a post-implementation review. You will also need to produce clear documentation to support everything that you have done during the incident - this can then be used to help you with any future incidents as it will show you what worked and what might have been better approached in a different way. You may also need to measure your metrics at this point. This will help pinpoint the areas where there were the most issues.

Mistakes in major incident management

When a crisis occurs, it can be all too easy to panic and throw the rules out of the window, simply tackling everything all at once. Unfortunately, if you do this, you will learn to your cost that not having and following a well-laid-out plan will quickly become a false economy. Experts such as those at Parallel Project Training believe that whilst in the immediate aftermath of any crisis in your project, it can be all too easy to avoid the rules, it is essential not to throw them out of the window completely.

Every crisis will be different, but how you handle each one will, for the large part, be very simillar. Taking the time before you start a project to ensure that you have a good crisis management plan in place will make dealing with any issues much easier because it will give you some guidelines to follow, and this means that you are less likely to do anything as a result of panic.

Communication is still one of your most important project management skills, and in the event of a crisis, one of your first tasks should be to communicate with everyone involved. Let them know what has happened and what the plan is moving forward. This will ensure that nobody is in the dark and will help to avoid panic.

In order to ensure that you do your best to stay level-headed in the event of a crisis it is important to ensure that you follow best practices for project management. These include:

●       Ensure you have several channels available for reporting major incidents - when time is of the essence, you want to ensure that you have plenty of channels available for communication. This will allow you to know exactly what is going on and what order you need to tackle things in.

●       Make sure that you are updating everyone and everything to ensure that your team know exactly what is going on and what they should be doing - in much the same way as you would with any project

●       Keep communications prompt and relevant

●       Make sure that all documentation is clear and concise

●       Ensure that you are using any software you have access to that will help you do all of this. It will help you to create that all-important paper trail that will help you with any future crisis issues within your projects and will allow you to see what you did well in addition to what you may need to find alternative solutions for.