Managing Sensitive Projects: Include These Skills On Your Team

Now and then an organization may encounter sensitive projects. It might be confidential internally, such as initiatives that will result in the relocation of a portion of the company or lead to a reduction in the overall workforce. On the other hand, projects could be sensitive outside the business because they are intended to change the organization’s competitive position in the marketplace. Some project types that typically call for strict confidentiality are those that involve mergers and acquisitions, new product research and development, and any effort that could trigger a restructuring of the company or a shift in its mission.

Project Management SkillsIt can be a challenge to move a project ahead if the need to maintain confidentiality means you must limit the number of people who are involved. If your organization is struggling to support a sensitive project, consider including these useful, targeted skills on your team.

Leverage advanced communication experience. Sensitive projects require holding data within a small group of authorized personnel. However, communication is still a primary function of the team, and its members need to maintain appropriate information flows, both within the project group and across the various sponsors. This becomes even more important as the project moves forward, with new confidential information coming in and some older data losing its top-secret status. You’ll want to assign primary communication responsibilities to someone with experience responding to inquiries and providing progress reports, while still holding a secure perimeter around information that shouldn’t be divulged.

Look for strong facilitation skills. Along with a robust communication strategy, facilitation skills will be crucial in shepherding a sensitive project through its life-cycle, particularly during the early stages when the need for confidentiality is often the greatest. An experienced facilitator can partner with executive staff and other senior-level sponsors to help shape a project scope that is realistic. They’ll have the background necessary to expedite the evaluation of potential deliverables and ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to expectations.

Find a team partner with expertise in information security and privacy. Properly managing confidential information is about more than sharing versus not sharing. Project team members who have access to sensitive data need to use a structured methodology for storing, sending, receiving, updating, and even destroying key pieces of information. Data security and privacy skills will be important in maintaining the organization’s compliance with applicable information privacy mandates, security best practices, and the latest data management protocols. These steps are not only good business, they’ll also help prevent
unauthorized information leaks.

A background that includes project risk management will be a big help to the team. It’s important to identify and vet potential risk points prior to finalizing the project scope and schedule, and the ability to conduct a thorough risk assessment will be crucial in achieving the expected results. This effort should be focused on risk areas that are likely to impact the project itself, and is most effective if it also includes the development of mitigation strategies as part of the early planning process.

Consider if workforce management expertise would be useful during the project’s early phases. Before you’re able to bring on a full-fledged HR partner, the team may need to forecast staffing requirements and potential impacts on the organization’s employee base. For initiatives that involve a full or partial relocation, an expansion into a new region, a reduction in force, or the acquisition of another company’s personnel, the ability to accurately estimate requirements and time-frames will be crucial. An expert can
also factor in any labor regulations that could impact the project’s parameters.