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5 Ways to Identify Project Risks Holistically

Half the battle of overcoming a problem is simply being able to identify what is causing issues. This is especially true when it comes to effectively managing risks; when the risk is not properly identified, it cannot be managed. In a post for The Project Risk Coach, Harry Hall elaborates on how to best identify risks.

Risk Omniscience

The bottom line is that projects will either succeed or fail depending upon the manager’s ability to identify, as well as manage, the most pertinent risks. This becomes a balancing act because adequate time needs to be taken to properly identify anything that poses a threat to a project, but managers do not have the time to only be looking for risks. There are five approaches that can help make identifying risks effective without being time-consuming:

  1. Using a list
  2. Utilizing categories
  3. Identifying both internal and external
  4. Top-down and bottom-up
  5. Reviewing risks continually

According to Hall, a risk list is “a list of potential risks for an industry, organization, or company.” In the ideal situation, the risk list would additionally be categorized by the type of risk, like scheduling risks for example. Some risks that could be associated with this category include these: schedule is missing key activities, schedule is too optimistic, there is too much pressure on the schedule, or the key stakeholders are not given the opportunity to review the schedule.

If the manager does not have a risk list already established, they can take advantage of a prompt list to get the ball rolling. Some generic topics, which are prone to risk, that will be important to any project include schedules, budgets, quality, and scope.

Most managers understand that they must identify internal risks, but they forget about the external. A contract does not immediately alleviate all risks from third-parties. Top-down risk identification meanwhile begins with senior management giving their outlook. This is excellent because it identifies what those high up can see as problems. Bottom-up begins with the team and key stakeholders. This approach can be helped immensely with the work breakdown structure.

Risk identification is not a one-time occurrence, but rather something that continually needs to happen. Risks change and evolve over time. Additionally, risk identification should occur when there is a new major event, such as a change in team members or a significant change in requirements.

You can read the original post here: http://projectriskcoach.com/2016/02/14/how-to-identify-your-project-risks-holistically/

About Danielle Koehler

Danielle is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. She has degrees in English and human resource management from Shippensburg University.

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