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Massimo Antoniello 2 articles
Residence: IT Milan Area, Italy
Organisations Architect ★PMO ★GOTO Market ★ScaleUP ★PLM ★F&B

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Mitigate project risks and impacts

“project management is a risky job"

In spite of all the planning and thinking done, all projects face unforeseen pitfalls. Experienced Project Managers know this and try to look ahead and predict such pitfalls beforehand and find means to avoid them.

My experience is that risks perception is different across project actors, a key success factor is to streamline the perception on real facts to properly assess risks and to create a common understanding and common risks framework.

Having planned the project in some details, the next step is to carry out a risk assessment to see how robust the plans are. A tested roadmap is well-known and simple five-step approach to managing risk and implementation issues:

Step 1 - Use the Project Management Framework to organise the project well

In practice, the whole of project management is about managing risk - it is all about trying to improve the chances of success. All the approaches and tools aim to clarify and reduce the risk of something going wrong.

Step 2 - Create a Risk Register to identify possible pitfalls

This is best done with the project team and other relevant people.

Identify the risks and implementation issues with a straightforward brainstorm of all the things that could disrupt the project - things that could cause problems when you start implementing the project. 

  • Best done with the project team and relevant others.
  • Sometimes called creating a "risk register" 

In most cases this can be done by simply brainstorming to identify all the events that could cause problems for the project and could throw it off-course.

Having listed the events, rate each out of 5 as to how likely it is to happen, and the level of impact on the project.

Please note that sometime there could be a high degree of “political” games behing risks assessment between project players, consider that risks have different perception by

  • Organisation level of the actor
  • Individual past experience on projects
  • Seniority
  • Department

Step 3 - Identify the Priority items

Identify those that are high priority - items, which are both likely to happen and which would have a major impact. Best done by mapping them on a Hi-Lo diagram for each item on the risk register

  • how likely they are to occur and
  • how much impact they would have on the project.

The above project is aimed to objectify the risks and to properly prfioritize them for mitigation plan.

My experience is that people focus on the impact and magnitude to damages ( i.e. a meteor will impact the new building … ) because when approaching risks discussion human brain naturally switch in defending mode.

It is a real key factor to focus on how likely is the risk to occur to have a rationale and solid risks dashboard.

Step 4- Take Action to avoid the Risks

Remember to the team that ultimately managing and protecting from risks is a budget allocation exercise, mitigation action is a cost to the project and need to be carefully analyzed, some player in the team will naturally tent to overprotect because of failure fears, overprotecting in addition to be impossible is a good reason for project failure since it will heavily impact on the time and budget.

Risk protection plan is a dynamic process and not a static picture, priorities and resource allocation will vary and adapt in the course of project.

At each round of project analysis, take each of the high priority items in turn, identify ways to reduce the risk:

a To reduce the likelihood of them occurring, or

b To reduce their impact if they do occur.

For each of the high priority items (highly likely to happen and with a high impact on the project), identify ways to defuse them and reduce the risks:  

1 either changes to reduce the likelihood of them happening

2 or changes to reduce their impact on the project if they did happen. 

Step 5 - Bullet-Proof the Project

Make the project less "Vulnerable" - to other unexpected events.  Costs to manage risks are lower the earlier the risks are identified, try to make the project resilient to future developing risks by adoption common strategies like:

Build-in Contingency (slack) - either in time, money, or resources. You don't know when you will need it but you know that you will. (a "back pocket")

Establish good Project Intelligence - through personal contacts and networking by the Project Manager, team members, and Project Sponsor - to inform you of changes and events outside of the project

Quality Manage the Project Design - through consultation, pilots, communication, training, project support, etc


Published at pmmagazine.net with the consent of Massimo Antoniello