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12 Sure-Fire Ways to Improve Project Risk Management

Everybody expects a car alarm to come equipped in their new car, but car alarms go off so often for such silly reasons that nobody even turns their heads anymore. Likewise, everybody knows how important risk management is on a project, but how often do we agree to track risks and then promptly forget about it? Harry Hall provides 12 ways to get risks back under control:

  1. Lead by example.
  2. Focus on the risks that matter.
  3. Right-size risk management.
  4. Develop risk management habits.
  5. Identify risks early.
  6. Involve high-power/high-interest stakeholders.
  7. Be transparent.
  8. Capture risks in a consistent format.
  9. Evaluate whether the risk responses are effective.
  10. Engage risk owners.
  11. Make risks specific.
  12. Focus on the objectives.

Glory Like a Raging Fire

Everybody gets anxious about change. You, as the leader, will lead by example by expressing confidence in the team’s ability to start better tracking risks. Evaluate and prioritize the most relevant risks early, so that you do not end up compiling an insurmountably huge list of arbitrary risks. Trying to play it easy by mimicking someone else’s existing risk plan is likely to backfire as well; even two seemingly very similar projects can call for vastly different risk requirements. The only way to make risk “easy” over the long-term is to develop habits for identifying, assessing, and periodically reassessing risks.

Another thing to remember is that stakeholders are not ogres. Just because they suddenly show up late in the project asking for changes does not mean they are looking to ruin you, but rather that they only just now became aware of the project and its implications. Seek out and engage all the stakeholders yourself from the beginning to avoid peril later. Whether talking to them or your team, attempt to be as transparent as possible about risks. And to facilitate this, use a simple, repeatable format for adding risks to the risk register. Hall recommends sticking with “Cause -> Risk -> Effect” to get as straightforward and specific as possible.

About determining risk response effectiveness, he further writes:

Until we take action to manage risks, nothing matters. Once we respond, we must evaluate the effectiveness of our actions. Are we getting the results we expected? Evaluate responses and tweak the response plans as needed.

Some projects are too big for one person to manage every risk, which is when the project manager needs to recruit risk owners to take accountability for the risks which fall under their expertise. In the end, risk or no risk, every team member and stakeholder should be thinking about how their actions ultimately affect the achievement of project objectives.

You can read the original post here: http://www.pmsouth.com/2015/04/04/12-sure-fire-ways-to-improve-project-risk-management/

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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