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When “Economic turbulence” rhymes with “Project management”

December 6th 2022

Supply issues, scarcity of resources, and rising interest rates, companies are currently facing an economic period with their share of uncertainties and challenges. Several are thus tested at different levels: expensive financing, more complex management of resources, stability or decrease in income, etc.

The acceleration of changes in business models in several sectors of activity has complicated the equation since the start of the COVID pandemic. We think, among other things, of the accelerated digital shift. These paradigm shifts add to the challenges to be met and multiply the complexity of the equation for the manager to resolve. On the other hand, in any economic restructuring, there are always opportunities. The big question in a period of turbulence is, therefore: How can I adapt effectively to take advantage as quickly as possible of the new business opportunities that arise or that will arise in the recovery?

Let's approach the challenge in two stages, with two distinct objectives:

  • Protect the assets and the company's ability to adapt and remain agile
  • Identify and take part in the major trends and changes in models in our sector

Let's see how project management becomes a strategic asset and a concrete tool to achieve the two previous objectives.

First, in both cases, it is clear that management information is key. The one that allows you to understand your business and master its management fully. It is, therefore, at this level that project management generates leverage. When we speak of management by project, we include de facto a sub-management by activity.


Optimize agility to adapt better
At this level, we will prioritize a game plan based on a "lean" vision of internal management. Targeting the analysis of key business processes, a reflection in the "lean" angle will automatically lead to the protection of the assets and the strengths of the company by reducing the processes without creating value and redirecting the recovered energy to the processes that make them. Direct consequence: the company automatically gains agility.

At the process analysis level, project management strategically intervenes as a "lean" evaluation and improvement tool. For any key process to be validated, it is a question of launching a structured evaluation project (activity) according to the stages of the process.

By simply collecting information on the time and material allocated to each step via your ERP solution, you quickly identify any inefficient step (activity) in the targeted process. It then follows, if necessary, a study of time and motion on a specific stage of service delivery or product manufacturing. This study eventually leads to the adjustment of the step in question or its potential elimination from the process of which it is a part.

The premise to be strictly adhered to in this exercise is that the structure of your project's activity must strictly adhere to the actual sequence of steps constituting the assessed process. Otherwise, the information collected could be more precise, and your analysis automatically loses decision-making quality and management leverage.

Adapting to new buisiness models
At this level, too, project management can become a tool of formidable efficiency for the manager.

To change your business model and vision, you must have an excellent connection to your commercial playground. Either read and describe the changes in ways of doing things that are possible for the company.

Management complexity is, therefore, often very concentrated upstream of decision-making. It is usually associated with a need for information to reduce decision-making uncertainty below an acceptable threshold within the framework of a well-calculated risk.

Referring to Jim Collins and his work on the mechanisms that have made certain companies more successful than others over a long period, one of the interesting concepts in his writings is the notion of "Empirical creativity". Quickly explained, empirical creativity is a business strategy that consists of optimizing the means we take (the "How") to circumscribe a question better and better identify the framework of a business situation (the "What"). For example, the adoption of a new business model as far as we are concerned here.

The mechanics of the concept boiled down to a simple sentence in the military analogy: "Do not waste your cannonballs until you have first identified where the target is precisely using pistol fire.''

The strategy is, therefore, to launch several small, well-designed projects (gunshots), sequential or parallel, targeting business issues that we wish to specify. We then use project management to make a business impact assessment. The "well-designed" rating is critical because, once again, the premise is a well-defined structure of project activities to assess each key component of your field tests effectively.

The pilot project, therefore, represents the preferred business strategy, and project management represents the tool for achieving the final objective: making an informed strategic decision based on an assessment of the commercial traction and profitability of a potential business model change.


In conclusion, as a manager, ensure you have a flexible and efficient project management tool that effectively supports your analysis and decision-making processes.

Good management.

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