10 Contingency Plan Examples for IT Projects

Editorial Team

A contingency plan is just another name of ‘plan B.’ it is a backup plan made to be used when things won’t be going according to plan A. When plan A goes into an unexpected phase, that is when the contingency plan comes in action. Contingency plan examples include the making of a plan that handles the risks when they become a reality, and when plan A fails to do so. In the words of literature, a contingency plan in project management is an actionable plan that is to be acted upon if a known risk becomes a reality. 

In more official words, the Project Management Institute defines it as “Contingency planning involves defining action steps to be taken if an identical risk event should occur.” The contingency plans in project management are the parts of risk management, and they are considered as an important step of a risk management plan. 

Contingency plans can not be made for unknown risks. Hence a plan B can only work if the risks are known. This implies that contingency plans are to made for identified risks that could become a reality during the process of project management. It must also be kept in mind that a contingency plan should not only be brought into action when a certain thing goes wrong. It can also be sued to take advantage fo the strategic advantages that might happen during project management. A contingency plan examples may include the chance that you have identified a new training software that is to be released soon. If this stage comes while you are in the middle of the process, then you can bring your contingency plan into action. 

The contingency plan examples do not mean that it is the same as a mitigation plan. The latter helps in attempting to decrease the chances of occurrence of the risk. At the same time, a contingency plan comes into action when a risk has occurred, and it is to deal with the risks that become a reality. A contingency plan is your last step of defense. 

To be able to prepare a contingency plan for your project management process, you need to do the following.

  • Identify what risks must become a reality for the plan to come in action, understand who will be involved in your plan, what do they need to do, when does it need to happen, how will the plan be executed, where will the plan take place 
  • Have clear guidelines of communication when a plan comes in action
  • Monitor the plan carefully
  • Be aware of the challenges you as a PM might face while making contingency plans.

1. Contingency Plan For Fixed Deadline Risk Management

Among many of the contingency plan examples, this one lies in the top because time is a major thing in project management. There are many occasions when the time is the issue you will be dealing with. Many clients come for IT projects where they have a fixed deadline to release a product or a service. They always have a scope fixed in their minds. At the very start, they might think that all of the points they are coming with are all must-haves. They maintain a fixed budget as well. 

But they might not have a proper schedule or when they want which part of the product to be completed. This task is upon you to manage project deliverables in a properly defined Project Planning. You will have to choose the deadlines for different milestones and should also stay on schedule. The risk of deadlines not being accomplished will be well tackled if you have each of your

task defined in a complete and proper sense.

Also, utilize the resources assigned to each specific task and do not overuse or under sue any of the resources so that you can complete the project fully. And if you run out of resources and face a risk of not being able to complete the project in time, then have backup resources for such a case. Always have backup resources so that you do not fall behind schedule in any contingency situation.

Bring your crucial matter expertise holders in your team and involve them in the IT project you have faced the risk in. Use their knowledge and authority. You will be using their expertise to break down the scope into three groups, i.e., must have, should have, and nice to have. Don’t agree on putting everything of the scope in the first bucket as long as you are not doing an MVP. Make sure you first prioritize everything that is of the most important in the scope. Start fulfilling from this point and keep moving towards things that are gradual of less importance. 

Have a close eye on the project processes and monitor them to keep a check that everything is going fine and as planned. Have a project tracking system or schedule and keep updating status with time on the achievement of each milestone. And also during the time in between.

2. Huge Uncertainty In Project Scope

Happens it happens quite many times in IT projects. It is one of the second contingency plan examples that you must keep into consideration. In the case that the risk you encountered has affected the project scope, you are in the position to bring your contingency plan in action for it. If you are in a position that you could not identify the scope of the project at the start, then your contingency plan will come in action. 

To tackle this encounter of risk, you will call it an additional phase of the project. You will now be making a proof of the concept for which you will find available solutions that can be used with the product in construction. The things you did out of scope will now be regarded as a bit of research you did to eliminate the guesswork. You hence won’t be going out of the scope at all and will know what you must be doing next. This risk can be tackled in this way that you will include the happening of the risk as a part of your product development process. Call it research and get back on track of your scope as soon as possible. 

You can further be cleared in scope by getting a user sign-off agreement and also inquire more about the scope. You can ask and clear any uncertainty in the scope before initiating the project scope. Ask questions about the scope and keep listing items that are out of scope. By knowing what’s out of scope, you will be able to be sure of what’s in scope.

3. Inefficient Quality

This contingency plan includes the changing of processes to be able to overcome risk hence encountered. Having an inexperienced team that at the start seemed as if they have entire expertise can bring in low quality work. A complex product can bring in many defects in this case. And if some changes are made in a certain product development phase, then many defects can stack up. This can impact the schedule massively. And trying to find, fix, and deliver a corrected version of the product can take a lot of time. 

A contingency plan examples in such a situation can render the workflow in the following ways,

  • Initial workflow: analyze requirements > implement the requirements > test work > create and handoff deliverable to QA engineer 
  • New workflow: analyze requirements > implement requirements > test work > introduce quality checkpoint > create and handoff deliverable to QA engineer

Doing this will help the QA engineer only to do a quick review of the work and deliver it later. The quality checkpoint will be your contingency plan and will help the removal of defects that could have made the product out of scope. This reduces the number of defects in almost aa half amount. 

4. Plan For The Loss Of An Important Team Member

A completely planned project and a realistic-looking plan seems great and is also loved by the client. Having a look at the schedule will help you identify the personnel that is the most important in your team—someone who might be involved in all of the activities on a critical path. Or there might be someone who is having major expertise and knowledge required for the completion of your project. Such team members are of high importance, and they are the ones carrying out the project in the right direction at the right place. 

But what if one of them leaves in the middle of the project? These are hard to replace people, and the risk of replacing such people can hinder the project completion. The best contingency plan examples for such a case can be to try to mitigate the risk. Try talking to these team members and having them change their decision. But even still they leave, then the best option is to have already someone under consideration which could fill up the gap. Moving someone up in the ladder can not be the perfect solution, but this is the only way out of such aa case. Or you can urgently find someone outside the company who has the expertise to handle everything at once. 

5. Incorrect Requirements

Assuming that you clearly understand the requirements and then having your clients arguing about changed requirements is a major risk. You might be working on a project that can only be best known to be built accurately by getting end-user reviews. Once you go through all the phases of product development and then distributing it to the end-user, you may be sure that you did the right thing. But once you get the review or feedback, you realize that you made a wrong assumption about the requirements. 

To tackle this case, you need to have a contingency plan examples that include the manufacturing of a prototype. Even if you have built a product that isn’t on the accurate requirements, you can build a prototype. Bring it to the end-user and collect their feedback. Now when you start making changes to the product or start building a new one for the same project, you will include the feedback gotten from the prototype usage. This will help you build an accurate product this time.

To mitigate this risk as much as possible you should try getting a user sign-off on the requirements document. This will help you be away from the responsibility of getting requirements wrong. You can get clear about what the user is requiring and what you are supposed to produce.

6. Vendor Not Fulfilling Commitments

If you have vendors then relying on the deliverables coming from others, then do not expect everything to go as scheduled. Delays always happen. Sometimes they are finishing their work late, or the deliverable might not be functioning properly. Even if you have worked with the vendor previously, you still will have to have contingency plan examples to tackle risks if they happen in real. 

Getting a sign off from the vendor and make sure you state all the deadlines and commitments made on the document so that there is no space of delays or uncertainty of time deadlines. Have a prepared workaround plan to tackle the case when the equipments of product parts are not delivered on time. Always have backup equipment such as a server if your required server isn’t delivered in time.

7. Scope Creep

On the situation when scope management or requirements management isn’t done. Changes to scope must follow a clear process to make sure any haphazard changes do not occur. This opposite can happen, as well. In the opposite situation, the project team prevents any changes in scope by strictly enforcing scope and also making a scope kill. The solution of scope creep is to manage users closely throughout project implementation. Also, get a document sign-off for each project deliverables. Strong communication with users is also important to manage expectations. Any new requirements will be considered as a Change Request, and user needs have to pay the cost for it.

8. Unclear Requirements 

Unclear requirements can take your project to directions that were not intended. This can delay your project and make you also deviate from the path that you were following to reach milestones. Such requirements can pop up at any time during any stage of the project and can make you feel helpless when you have gone through the essential steps of product development. 

But to handle this stage, you can use contingency plan examples to analyze the complexity of the requirements. Hire a subject matter expert to come out with the detailed requirements,  Get the user to sign-off the Requirements Document.

9. Destructive Stakeholders

Stakeholders that are good and have valuable intentions are destructive towards your responsibilities as a project manager. There can also be intentional destructive stakeholders. But the way you deal with both will be the same. If you get upon such a case, you will have to get the contingency plan examples to get you through. 

The ideal way to deal with these is to have a clear boundary between their promise that you can do it. And your commitments to be able to deliver the project in given constraints. To tackle these stakeholders, stakeholder analysis, define their authority and roles. Always keep them updated and get their buy-in from the beginning.

10. Natural Disaster

No project manager has any hold over natural disasters. They happen, and they can delay your milestone achievements and can render you into a phase of inactivity. The best way to tackle this situation is to keep preparing your team members for such a situation. You can prepare them by instilling in them such abilities that how they can resume their work back after the disaster ends or gets controlled by natural happenings. You will have to train the team on how to work remotely and how to deliver the work on assigned dates by working from homes. Training their brains for risky natural surroundings and to keep them stable is your contingency plan in this case. Taking insurance and also preparing a contract agreement will cover any uncertainties. You will be compensated for the loss caused by natural disasters. 


Risks are always a part of projects in the IT world. They need to be acknowledged before time, and there must be a plan to tackle them. This is the best way to keep your project milestones safe form delaying and for preparing your products within time.