You've returned to your well-established project after the holidays only to find that things have changed dramatically in the time you have been away. Not only has your Project Sponsor left the company, you now have a brand new Project Manager who is completely revisiting the project scope and deliverables. You have a feeling that as a result of these changes you may become surplus to requirements and be out searching for a new contract a lot sooner than expected. This is not as rare an event as some may think. It is only week three of the new calendar year and I have already hosted five queries from concerned contractors. All five individuals have found that things have changed significantly on the contracts they were engaged on - in one case so significantly that the contractor has been given notice unexpectedly.
Changes can occur at any point in the project lifecycle and often for a good reason. Similarly to permanent gigs - where both internal and external business environmental factors can lead to changes in role deliverables, contract engagements are rarely set in stone. An organisation may go through a restructure, become involved in M&A activity or pull spending from your project due to poor financial results. It is therefore important for us all to be ready to adapt to – and embrace – changes that may occur.
In this article we look at four ways to help you navigate and prepare for project changes:
Clarify with your manager about what is expected of you
In the same way as when you start a new project, it is worthwhile revisiting the agreed deliverables after the long break. Ensure that the deliverables you signed off with the Project Manager (or Project Sponsor) at the start remain relevant. This will also help you to plan your time effectively and deliver tasks on time and with the right functionality.
Review and re-validate your contract deliverables if key project stakeholders have changed
If you have a new Project Sponsor or Project Manager post the holidays, reach out to them to discuss and revalidate the deliverables you are accountable for. If there are any changes, I recommend ensuring these are documented and communicated through effective project change controls. Failure to do so may result in issues beyond your control which may have a significant impact on the ultimate success of the project.
Keep an eye out for organisation-wide changes that will impact your deliverables
Similarly, if organisation-level changes emerge (such as restructures or mergers and acquisitions), it is prudent to ensure that you proactively ascertain any impact on the project(s) you are engaged with. This may be in the form of an informal chat with your Project Manager or raising a formal project risk or issue if you are not getting appropriate responses.
Be upfront about any travel plans
If you are planning to take time-off later in the year and your holiday will fall mid-project, now is a great time to discuss this with your Project Manager or Sponsor so that work can be planned accordingly. In addition, proactively discuss your continued engagement on the Project upon your return before you go on such breaks. Do not assume that your deliverables will continue to be required for the reasons previously detailed above.
If you undertake the simple actions outlined above, these will ensure that you are ahead of the game and you will not be surprised by changes that may occur. Notwithstanding this, always ensure that you continually deliver professional high-quality outcomes and refrain from engaging in office politics - these, above any other matters, will set you apart from others when it comes to ensuring continuity. We would like to hear your views and suggestions and especially if you are having such issues on your current contracts.