Your voice: Managing risks during project execution
In this week’s “your voice,” Saleh says no amount of preparation can eliminate risks. “All we can do to ensure a successful project outcome is to develop a well thought out plan to identify, communicate, and report risks that may manifest during project execution.”
Authors Frank P. Saladis and Kay Wais wrote “Risk is a measure of uncertainty and … all of the facts we have today and all of the lessons learned we have experienced do not provide a guarantee.”
For those of us of who manage projects, this statement highlights a crucial lesson. No amount of preparation can eliminate risks. All we can do to ensure a successful project outcome is to develop a well thought out plan to identify, communicate, and report risks that may manifest during project execution.
The first step in the risk management process is identifying and analyzing potential risks. The risk identification process should be performed during the very early stages of the project and continue through the entire project life cycle to account for changes and new developments. To ensure optimum results, a project manager must ensure that the project management team is specifically trained in risk management to avoid placing the onus of risk identification on the contractor or a single employee; the participants should explore all potential risks based on the significance of the impact on the project.
All aspects of the project should be examined, including the scope of work, work breakdown structure, budget, procurement plan, execution plan, and schedule. Additionally, the team may explore historical data and conduct brainstorming sessions involving all team members and any third parties employed by the organization.
The following are two proven methods used by experienced project management teams during the risk identification process:
- Conduct a root cause analysis of all major potential risks.
- Identify all factors that will lead to the project’s success or failure.
If the root cause analysis is employed, the team must identify all possible issues that may manifest during execution and potentially impact the project. If the project team adopts the second approach, they should identify all essential functions that must be performed and/or goals that must be achieved for the project to be considered successful, as well all elements that could possibly lead to project failure. A project team that possesses the requisite experience and knowledge to successfully perform the steps required during this process is crucial, so project managers should provide risk management training to the project management team.
The next step is risk analysis. Performing a thorough risk analysis affords the project team the opportunity to act, often when and where it is most needed. All risks, regardless of significance or potential impact, must be assessed and categorized. During this screening process, the team must be able to differentiate between a root cause and a symptom — the latter of which is more easily identified.
Needless to say, treating the symptom, without addressing the root cause, does not solve the problem. The team must identify the type of risk and determine whether the impact is long term or short term.
Your Voice reflects the thoughts and opinions of the writer, and not necessarily those of the publication.