Being aware of risk in a project is imperative if you want your project to be a success….and what Project Manager wouldn’t want that! But why bother with risk management?

  • fewer nasty surprises
  • less stress
  • more efficient use of resources
  • reduced over-spend
  • less time fire-fighting, so more time on the project
  • improved profits and revenue

Defining risk

People often confuse a ‘risk’ with an ‘issue’.

  • Issues can be defined as things that are happening here and now that are effecting the success of the project. Issues need to be addressed and overcome for the project to move forward.
  • Risks are in the future. They are potential issues that might occur as the project plan plays out. Understanding and mitigating these risks will help the project be successful.

The Risk Management Process

By adopting a risk management process as part of the project planning process you are already one step ahead of the potential risks! Take the time to really delve into your project and work with others to identify risks. You will be approaching the project from one point of view, so by working with others who will be involved in the project, you’ll have a wider view of potential risks. Follow the steps below to get your risk management process started:

  • Identify risks
  • Evaluate risks
  • Identify the highest level of risk (those with the most significant impact on project)
  • Determine the best way of reducing each risk (identify actions, allocate risk owner)
  • Revise and update the plan to incorporate new actions to mitigate risks.

Regularly review the risks you’ve identified and take the time to identify any others that may have cropped up during the project. Also consider if any additional risks will occur as a result of the risks you have identified.

Common pitfalls to avoid

We’ve talked before about what makes a project successful and identifying and managing risk is just one of the factors. Other common pitfalls (relating to both the project as a whole and risk management) are:

  • Student syndrome: procrastination….putting it off until the day before the deadline, panicking and producing something that could definitely be better.
  • Distant elephants: agreeing to everything as it seems possible in the extensive time you have allocated to the project. BE AWARE that those distant elephants quickly will catch up with you! Plan the time to make sure everything can be delivered.
  • Setting non-measurable actions: how will you know if the action has been successful or completed with no way of measuring it?
  • Not asking or listening to the team: each member of a project team will be approaching the project from a different viewpoint, and have different ideas. Listen to the team and take on board what they’re saying.
  • No contingency: you’ve identified the risks and have a plan to mitigate them, but if your deadline date is an absolute must, build in contingency time to allow the project to be delivered on time.

Get in touch

Drop us a message or give us a call to discuss your risk management process and how Oxford Projects could help you develop a robust plan and team to take it forward.

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