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Practical Advice for Project Managers

I’ve been managing projects for about 30 years or so, far longer than I’ve been writing about it. Along the way, I’ve collected a few useful thoughts that never made it into an article or blog post or book. At first, I was just jotting notes on paper. Then I took to creating short text files, saved to a folder. The last few years, I’ve been using OneNote to capture those fleeting thoughts. Here are …

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Risk Response Strategies: Transfer or Avoid the Danger

As I’ve noted in other articles, a risk is an uncertainty that matters. Some event has a significant probability of occurring, and there will be a significant consequence if it does. A risk represents a threat, and a wise project team endeavors to identify project threats and analyze them for effective strategies, so that the probability of occurrence can be reduced or the consequences reduced. Or both. Of Mice and Risk Management Consider the following …

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How to Identify Risks with a SWOT Analysis

Project managers can use several tools to identify project risks, including interviews, brainstorming, checklists, assumption analysis, cause-and-effect diagrams, the nominal group technique, and affinity diagrams. One of my favorite techniques is the SWOT analysis, where you and your team can identify and prioritize strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Once you’ve completed the SWOT analysis, you will have identified opportunities (positive risks) and threats (negative risks), inputs for your risk register. The information can help you …

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Simplicity: What’s Left When You Ignore Everything Else

Have you ever stopped at the supermarket to reflect on the constantly improving state of the art in maximizing grain yield per acre? Of course not. You simply grab a loaf of bread, glance at the “Sell by” date, and put it in your cart. You don’t feel a sense of gratitude that you and your family probably won’t die of starvation, as was so common for earlier generations. You don’t feel a sense of …

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How to Identify Scope Risks for Clear Sailing

It’s not too hard to believe that some of us do not have a perfect understanding of scope. But when the idea of scope is fuzzy, it will not be possible to identify all the critical scope risks—which can be costly. In a post for the Project Risk Coach, Harry Hall says, “It’s like an overdrawn bank account. There are all kinds of penalties and fees” when scope risks are left unaddressed. There Is No …

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3 Dimensions of Signs That Your Project Will Fail

If a boy runs for class president and loses, it could be for a spectrum of different reasons. Maybe someone else ran on a better platform. Maybe the boy had no charisma. Maybe the boy accidentally ran for president of the wrong school. IT projects can fail for an equally diverse spectrum of reasons. In an article for CIO.com, Moira Alexander examines three potential culprits for where your project could be going wrong. Dimensions of …

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How to Manage Project Risk While Running Your Project

Managing risk is one-and-done in the same way that getting a haircut is one-and-done: There is no such thing. In a post at Project Bliss, Leigh Espy shares her process for managing risks over the life of the project, while still making time for everything else associated with the project. Risk in Paces You want to begin by creating a project risk matrix, which should include “trigger activities” that describe when action is needed. Watch …

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Managing Risks That Evolve over Time: 3 Cases

Most project managers are used to making a qualitative risk analysis in two dimensions: the likelihood that an event will occur, and the impact of the event. And most risk management plans include some sort of “T-shirt” sizing scale to facilitate classification of probability and impact as small, medium, large, and so on. While not particularly rigorous, this approach does have the benefit of getting SME participation without making great demands on their time or …

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3 Essential Steps to Control Scope Creep

We think of scope creep as an insidious thing that grows just out of sight, like mildew in a bathroom. And sometimes that is exactly right. However, not all scope change is scope creep, and sometimes a change in scope can make the critical difference between creating business value or business waste. In a post for the PM Perspectives Blog, Susanne Madsen outlines three steps to control scope change of all kinds: Be clear on …

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How to Keep Your Risk Management Genuinely Simple

Author William Gaddis once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” The best project managers understand project management and know how to keep things simple. Some project managers are guilty of using complex risk management processes and lingo that few people understand. Team members finds themselves lost. They may be thinking, “What planet is this guy from? Sheesh!!” Risk management does not have to be complicated. Really. Allow me to share seven simple ways to manage …

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