Managing Remote Projects During a Crisis : Game-development and Manufacturing Projects Response to COVID-19
Abstract: Although projects and project management has grown to be increasingly influential in all aspects of business operations, project success and efficiency is often harder to measure and arguably harder to execute. Many projects may often change the course of intent, exceed the initial budget, or even finish later than expected. This causes a great debate on the different ways to efficiently manage projects and what actually works best in practise. According to different scholars, some sides mention that traditional methods where planning is completed at the very beginning is the most efficient way to manage projects, while others mention the use of adaptive methods where planning is not ‘set in stone’. Project management as an academic field is relatively well explored, however as the COVID-19 continues to set restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, academic research to increase the empirical data on project management during the pandemic is needed. This study aims to contribute to this academic field to understand the reasoning behind project management adaptations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, this study will aim to gain understanding to the why’s and how’s of common themes regarding how projects have adapted. The industries this study will focus on will be the Swedish game-development industry and the Swedish heavy industry. Based on a literature search and review on project management evaluations methods, leadership styles, risk and crisis management, and project management methodologies, semi-structured interviews took place with CEO’s, project managers, and other senior managers in decision making positions, representing a total of six firms with three from each industry. The respondents were categorized based on their industry and if their project was completed or not. The analysis showed practical similarities in the implementations between projects, such as hygienic aspects in the workplace, remote working, and other practical implementations from the guidelines of the Swedish health authorities. The analysis also found the common theme of project responses being external threat recognition followed by the adaptation of remote working, the expansion of communication and finally the closure of the project. the analysis did however find smaller variations depending on the size of the firm and industry, such that smaller projects did not always need a firm wide remote working unit and that heavy industry projects leaned towards traditional project management methodologies with hints of agile methods, while the game-development projects quite explicitly used agile methods. While the study does contribute to the academic field of project management with empirical data and may provide guidance in future pandemics and similar situations, further research is needed in order to gain a full understanding on the pandemics effect on projects in Sweden, especially through a study covering a larger study size.
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