Escalation Process in Projects
The escalation mechanism is already defined in most of the project plans, but in reality, only very few project managers make proper use of the escalation process. Many avoid escalation due to the fear of conflict, whereas, some overdo it by escalating every next issue in the project. Well, both approaches can harm a project. Therefore, escalating the problem of the project to the right person, at the right time, and with the right information is both an art and science that must be adopted by the project managers.
This guide focuses on an effective escalation process and the right way to handle it for project benefit.
What is an escalation?
An escalation process simplifies the channels and boundaries of decision-making within an organization for solving the problem quickly and effectively. The escalation process might also be called an escalation workflow that takes a high-priority issue to a high-level authority.
- Stay prepared
A clear escalation mechanism and path must be defined right from the outset of the project. For example, an escalation committee comprising of the upper management board can be established and agreed on escalating the significant issues whenever necessary. Certain hierarchy levels are bypassed for faster escalation of issues.
But it should not be overdone by escalating every single issue. Only the major issues that may have a considerable impact should be escalated.
- Assess the risk
The time of escalation also plays a major role. It’s important to raise the escalation on time. Neither, it should be exaggerated before doing a risk assessment, nor you should wait too long to raise the escalation.
- Communicating the escalation
Once everything is done to prevent the escalation, it’s time to escalate. And for an effective and efficient escalation, follow the tips below.
1: Use the channel for escalation that’s most appropriate for the project – Ideally, communication of escalation should be through call or face-to-face meeting. Escalating through email is an ineffective way as it may delay the resolution, if not handled in time, and also it may lead to misunderstandings, if not understood well.
2: Explain the major issues along with their implications – Always try to make it as short and simple as possible. This will make it easy to understand for everyone.
3: Explain the things that you did for avoiding the issue and also the escalation – This again should be kept short to avoid ending up with endless apologies.
4: Try to provide a proposal with a few resolution options – Propose two to three resolutions along with their effect on the present issue. Also, make a recommendation of the most suitable option.
- Follow up
Normally, some time is required for every escalation before implementing the agreed decisions by the project team and the project manager. So, it’s the duty of the escalation manager to keep the escalation committee informed about the progress and status until the problem and risk are resolved.
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