Potential Issues with Project Risk Management

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It’s a known fact that all projects, no matter how small, and in any industry, have some element of risk, so managing this involves identifying, quantifying, and managing risk outcomes.

Although we know it is impossible to remove all risks that may arise, by identifying them at an early stage, most Project Managers are able to avoid project failure.

A risk plan that has been project approved poses a defined and controllable risk management strategy.

As simple and practical as this sounds, why does project risk management so often fail to tackle the underlying project risks?

One main issue with project risk management is that no matter how detailed the risk plan put in place, there will always be unknown elements of risk that occur and can often throw a project off course.

The onus is on a Project Manager to factor in contingencies, such as extra funds, to prepare for all possible outcomes.

A good standard risk management plan to start with on any project should feature the following questions:

  • Does the project sponsor have any unlisted expectations?
  • Are there any unrealistic and inaccurate estimation of tasks set?
  • Will any core team members be reassigned to a new project?

The questions a Project Manager must ask about the purpose of a plan are:

  • Is the risk management plan robust enough to provide decent options to get away from a risk, or does it just sound good, but fails to be useful in practise?
  • Are you going to use the plan as an explanation of why the budget has over run?
  • Are there risks attached to a project that are certain to occur, and does the plan allow for these?
  • Are the project sponsors aware of all the risks? If they are, are they still driving it forward without thought to the consequences?
  • Will your risk plan expected to absorb the impact of a risk, and the blame?
  • It must be remembered that without risks in a project, nothing new will be created – the result will always be a replica of what has come before.

And to some extent, planning can only go so far – risks are always predicted on past events, but no-one can predict future issues that might be completely new.

Tackling an issue when it occurs and is at it’s most tangible is perhaps the best way for us to learn, however, a successful Project Manager will be one who doesn’t learn this lesson at the expense of the project, and everyone involved.

Source: The Learning People

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