Project ManagementRisk Management

7 Ways to Mitigate Risk on Projects

If you conduct your projects the right way, some risk management is already baked into the equation. But to best control your project’s fate, you need to get more mindful and explicit in your actions. In a post for the PM Perspectives Blog, Elizabeth Harrin shares seven ways to mitigate risk and how to conduct each:

  1. Clarify the requirements.
  2. Get the right team.
  3. Spread the risk.
  4. Communicate and listen.
  5. Assess feasibility.
  6. Test everything.
  7. Have a Plan B.

Survival Strategies

Unanimous decision-making is a beautiful thing on a project, and clear requirements can make a world of difference in risk. In order to get that clarity, build a comprehensive scope document out of information gathered from workshops and stakeholder interviews. After that, get the right team assembled; “right” in this case means people with adequate availability and skills to get the job done on schedule. Get diligent about resource allocation efforts.

With a team in place, quantify the risks and their severity, and then share ownership of risks meaningfully among the team, stakeholders, and contractors. A communication plan will go a long way here, though communication and inviting feedback are critical on any project. And about assessing feasibility, Harrin says this:

Break your project down into phases and include time at the beginning for a feasibility or investigation stage. This is a short period of time where you can fully scope out the initial underpinning or enabling work and test out your solution in a limited way prior to a full rollout. The learning can be incredibly helpful for shaping the rest of the project, and it can prove (or disprove) the business case without having to commit the full investment.

As deadlines approach, there might be pressure to pare back on testing, but this must not occur. When budgeting time, Harrin actually says to take the amount of time you expect testing to take and then to double that estimate. Better safe than sorry? Speaking of which, having a “Plan B” can be a life-saver, and it can come in several forms. These include earmarked contingency funds, standby resources, and having the option to reduce scope. But it is probably better to think of these things as an emergency airbag rather than a security blanket.

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