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12 Focused Ways to Improve Your Risk Management

Pretty much everyone agrees that risk management is important, yet too many project managers continually ignore the management of threats and opportunities. We can do better! In a post for The Project Risk Coach, Harry Hall explores how to improve risk management practices. According to Hall, there are 12 reasons why risk management becomes ineffective:

  1. A failure to lead by example
  2. A failure to focus on the important risks
  3. A failure to customize a risk management plan
  4. A failure to develop habits
  5. A failure to identify the risks early
  6. A failure to involve the high-interest stakeholders
  7. A failure to be transparent
  8. A failure to be consistent
  9. A failure to evaluate risk responses
  10. A failure to engage risk owners
  11. A failure of specificity
  12. A failure to stay focused

So Much Failure, So Little Time

When project sponsors and project managers are not consistently demonstrating the value of risk management, the team members will likely mimic that indifference. It is up to the leaders to lead and show the value of risk management. Sometimes the most powerful stakeholders show up at the last second and require changes that impede what was otherwise the home stretch of the project. It is vital that you reach out to such stakeholders earlier and do your best to continually keep them interested, engaged, and invested.

With a new project there are likely to be so many risks identified that managing all of them might seem impossible. This type of situation demands prioritizing risks, so that the most pressing concerns are handled in a timely manner. Triage as needed. Likewise, risk management plans, or at least good ones, are likely not one-size-fits-all. If you choose to use a template, make sure you alter it to fit your organization. Furthermore, it is not enough to merely identify the risks; teams need to continue the process and evolve with the changing environment.

When risks are identified early, complete anarchy can be prevented. The old “ounce of prevention” logic applies here. It is often better to allow the risks to be known. When people know about the risks, they can offer suggestions to remedy the problems. Consistency in risk descriptions, using a basic and common syntax, will further help to keep frustrations at a minimum. When the risk statement is vague, the root issues are difficult to pinpoint and address. With every risk response there should be inquiries made until the root issue is uncovered.

Not all risk responses are going to work well, and some may stop working well. It is important to continually evaluate them and make sure they stay functional. The risk owners can help develop and execute risk response plans that are greatly successful, so use them and stop bearing all the ownership of risks. Ultimately, you need to just keep your eye on the prize and stay on topic in risk discussions. Focus should stay on the project objectives and the related risks, not who won last night’s game.

You can read the original article here: http://projectriskcoach.com/2016/03/02/improve-risk-management/

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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