Dealing with a Mid-Project Reorganization

When a company undergoes a restructuring, there’s the potential that projects—those that are active as well as any still working their way through the pipeline—could experience some upheaval. People might be reassigned or let go, budgets may be reallocated, operational workflows are sometimes revised, and the company’s strategic mission is occasionally restated. Maintaining forward momentum during a project reorganization is often difficult, but a few strategies can help PMs keep their teams headed in the right direction.

Project Reorganization

Identify impacts within the project team

Depending on the scope of your projects and the cross-functional groups working on each one, it’s possible some team members could be affected by the restructuring. Look for areas where reporting relationships have changed and tackle those first. To be sure you don’t miss anything, it’s also prudent to ask everyone to chime in with any new direction they’ve received from their supervisors about their ongoing involvement in the project. Have you lost any team members in the project reorganization? Have hierarchy changes modified anyone’s job function enough to make them unavailable to you?

Confirm sponsor support

You need to know that your project’s champions remain committed to the effort. Changes to the leadership group could throw the entire project portfolio into disarray, but some early conversations should be helpful in identifying where sponsors are still in your corner and where newcomers might not yet see each initiative’s value. Don’t be shy about asking if a project is on the chopping block. Some early direction from the top can guide you on where to put your efforts right now. You may be tasked with making revisions once the executive groups gets things sorted out, but you can at least continue to make progress in the interim.

Ensure the project’s anticipated results remain aligned with the company’s strategic mission

Many project reorganization efforts focus on increasing efficiency and eliminating waste, putting the company in a good position for the future but leaving it headed in essentially the same direction. However, there are times when a firm restructures as part of a course correction. In these instances, you may need to rework the project’s original scope or plan so it delivers tangible benefits in the changed environment. Growth plans, budgets, regional footprints—they might all need to be revisited and the project updated to meet a new set of business needs.

Conduct an updated risk assessment

Internal changes frequently create new risk areas within an existing project. Have needs or expectations shifted? Do you anticipate that timing or other factors may now be more critical than they were previously? Everything from workforce risks to financial risks should be scrutinized to ensure the project plan fits the company’s new organizational structure. As new risks are identified as a result of the restructuring event, PMs will need to develop targeted mitigation strategies with the new corporate environment in mind.

Look for emerging resource conflicts

If the day-to-day roles or responsibilities of anyone on the project team have changed, you could be facing conflicts across key resources that will need to be reviewed and addressed. Tasks may need to be reassigned or re-sequenced to fit the company’s revised structure. For example, consider if staff reductions have occurred or if parts of the workforce will move to a new location. To compensate, you might need to increase the use of outside labor. Even the reallocation of project team members to a new department could mean they’re no longer able to participate in the project, so be diligent in tracking down commitments from senior leaders as you evaluate resource availability and work through potential conflicts.


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