Risk Management

When it comes to strategic risk management, PMs need to lead by example

The business relationship between project managers and project owners seems to be fairly well defined, especially when it comes to what actions and roles they play within a project. One would suspect, naturally, that a project manager would focus on tactical risk management (identifying and communication risks), whereas project owners would focus on strategic risk management (looking at long term risks and short term risks). But as Kiron D. Bondale found out, project owners were also focusing on tactical risk management. Bondale recognizes that this could be due to low levels of project risk maturity, but also sites two common factors that could also be at work. One of these being that project managers set the level of visibility, and project owners follow suit:

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.   In a low risk maturity organization, if the only regular mention of risks originates from project managers that will tend to anchor the level at which project owners will operate.   This gets further aggravated in those organizations that live milestone-to-milestone ““ through the project life cycle, if the team and project owner's focus is purely on achieving the next milestone, risks that may be realized past a project's completion may be missed or worse, ignored.

Bondale goes on to provide four ways to help the project owner stay on task with keeping their aim on strategic risk management, including involving them in regular risk identification meetings, working with the to define expectations, and report on expected outcomes for the project as part of a routine health indicator.

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