09 Apr 2020

Project Management in 2020: Navigating the Months Ahead

Project Management in 2020: Navigating the Months Ahead

Here at the Australian Institute of Project Management we recently ran a webinar on Navigating the challenges of COVID-19. This webinar had our largest attendance to date and it’s understandable why, as project management professionals are facing unprecedented challenges.

For our webinar we had two expert guest speakers from professional services network PwC Australia - Sascha Chandler and Ben Hamer. Here are some key takeaways to help you navigate the months ahead as a project manager:



  • As we all know, the hospitality and tourism industry took the first major hit and large retailers have also shut their doors.

  • What we initially thought was going to be hundreds of thousands of job losses has now turned into over one million job losses.

  • With overseas students unable to return to Australia for their studies, the higher education sector has also been affected, particularly universities.

  • Due to all these changes there have been large scale cutbacks in project portfolios, headcount reductions and reprioritisation of portfolios.

  • What we are seeing particularly in NSW, and news coming out of Canberra, is there will be an emphasis on redirecting as many people into economically stimulant type projects, such as capital works and bringing some of these projects forward.


During the webinar Sascha and Ben emphasised the importance of project managers being the voice of reason when others are panicking. Here is their advice for navigating the next six months and into the post COVID-19 period:

  1. Consider what is valuable to your stakeholders and clients: With so much coverage of COVID-19, many people are feeling overwhelmed by the information that is being produced. When it comes to your clients and stakeholders, carefully consider what you’re communicating with them and ensure that you’re only sharing information that is of high value.

  2. Have the right technology for remote working: Consider how you will communicate with your team and the ways you can maximise participation and team build in a virtual environment. The key to successfully working remotely is to communicate often, be transparent and maintain engagement across geographically dispersed teams.

  3. Adjust your project management style for the current climate: As a project manager you are probably used to requests to reduce and increase scope. Consider what you can do now to show stakeholders you’re doing everything in your power to ensure that momentum continues on the project.

  4. Remember the project outcome and what you’re aiming to achieve: While there has been large scale cutbacks in many project management portfolios, it’s important to focus on why your organisation began the project in the first place. Remind yourself of what the outcomes are, what they mean to your organisation and most importantly what they mean to your people.

  5. Look at what needs to change and how it will change: Both within your organisation and through your stakeholders you will find there are conversations around “stopping” or putting certain aspects of a project “on hold”. As a project manager your role is to put a narrative behind that and help your stakeholders understand what they need to be doing to adjust their portfolios.

  6. Plan for the human impact of COVID-19: Project managers are the people that are seen to facilitate conversations and run risk workshops. Your role is to help your team implement the changes that are necessary. When you’re having conversations with your team and stakeholders, plan for any questions they may have around the implication of COVID-19 on their role.

  7. Use your expertise in risk management: Consider some of the risk management techniques you can deploy around the delivery of the project. Are you going to throw protocol out of the window, simply because you are unable to have those face to face interactions? In times of uncertainty, focus on finding a way to continue your work without losing sight of the risk management aspects.

  8. Provide people with an avenue for raising risks: COVID-19 has brought about a range of risks. For instance, the increased use of technology has opened us up to greater cyber security and privacy issues. Consider all of the risks and ensure that every team member and stakeholder has an avenue to raise risks with you. 

  9. Make the most of your spare time: For many of us the current climate may result in extra time, as we stay at home more and projects are redirected, slowed or stopped. If you do find that you have more hours to spare, take advantage of this and consider how you can use the tools at your disposal. Can you use this time to get certified as a project manager or are there any courses you can do that will allow you to upskill?

  10. Plan for the post COVID-19 environment: As the impact of COVID-19 is just being realised in Australia, it may be hard to see that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Have a plan for the coming months but also plan for the post pandemic world and ensure that you will have the talent there to help you succeed in your future projects. 

The AIPM is here to help you navigate these times and emerge stronger. Over the coming months, we will be focusing on providing high value webinars and virtual events, with expert speakers that will provide advice on planning ahead, managing risks and team building. Visit the AIPM Events page to see the events and webinars planned for the coming weeks.