4. Project management in a sudden-onset emergency

In the first 24-72 hours after a sudden onset emergency it will not make sense to use the more formal tools of project management.

You will still need to be using the same processes, but in a much more flexible and informal way.

Communication – use stand-up team meetings to get team members on the same page about who is doing what that day. Use brief situation reports (sitreps) to update other parts of the office of the wider CARE about what is happening and what you are doing. Make sure that team meetings include as many of the team needed to deliver the assistance as possible. Particularly be sure to involve logistics, procurement and finance colleagues if you will need to quickly find and provide emergency assistance packages. Even if you haven’t been able to organize a specific meeting, you can still update colleagues in a car on the way to a field site.

Planning – see the Operational Planning section. Rather than developing full Work Breakdown Structures, use simple checklists of what needs to be done that day (or in the coming days) to advance the work.

Issues, Risks – some issues (problems) will need your immediate action to get assistance flowing. Others will need less immediate action. Rather than formal risk and issue registers, you will be better off with simple lists of issues and risks (potential problems). This will mean that you can keep your focus on the most important or urgent tasks, without losing the information or insights. Capture your own ideas and those of team members and other stakeholders

Human Resources – see the HR section for information on hiring, etc. In this initial stage you will be overwhelmingly dependent on current staff, community members, volunteers and partner organizations (and their staff). At the earliest possible opportunity, get an overview of what needs to be done and what amount of people can be assigned to the different tasks. Make some quick assignments to different tasks, and check in with them often. Give them as much support as you can, and the responsibility to make choices about how to do their work (as much as possible).

Stakeholders – involve affected people as much as you can, and particularly find ways for the active participation of women. At the absolute minimum, you and the whole project team need to be communicating consistently with local stakeholders on current plans, and exploring what will make sense in the next stage of the operation, without making promises.