We’ve talked many times before in this blog about projects and risk management. We’ve talked about identify and analyzing risks, the most common risks and the most common mistakes in risk management, the facets and categories of risk management, and even project management and risk management methodologies. So how do project managers tie all these together to make sure they really capture and ensure successful risk management?
This takes some experience and practice. Project managers are constantly on the go and often times doing several tasks at once. While multitasking is an excellent skill—and one that many project managers perfect over time—this can also have a negative impact.
- Identify Risks – As Early and as Often as Possible While we are busy multitasking, we may be forgetting to pay attention to crucial areas at crucial times, such as identifying risks. Identifying risks should occur at the very, VERY beginning of a project…even if the project isn’t technically a project yet, or is still only a lead or in the bidding stage. While it may seem like this takes more time overall, it can save project managers headaches throughout the project’s life cycle. In addition, it’s true that much of the identifying and analyzing risks should occur as early on in the project as possible, that doesn’t mean you don’t see them through. Depending on the probability and impact of the risk, it may be worth having regular risk or planning meetings with your team to monitor and analyze them through each project phase.
- Prioritize and Analyze Once project risks have been identified, and then re-identified, it is then important to assign tasks to team members as applicable. Each risk can come with its own set of responsibilities and tasks associated with it. In addition to the project manager, of course, each team member can be responsible for a risk or tasks. These tasks will need to be prioritized, analyzed, and then re-prioritized and reanalyzed through the life of the project. Again, this can be done at weekly risk or planning meetings, through documentation methods (such as checklists), or whichever method works best for the team as a whole.
- Communication and Project Management Communication is another big element that we’ve discussed in this blog on more than one occasion. Communication and project management, and communication and risk management go hand in hand…always. Projects will never be successful without implementing proper and open communication. Communication doesn’t even have to mean talking or conversing with one another about what’s going on, it’s about communicating risks, specifications, schedule changes, etc. Everyone should be on the same page at all times. This is of course a challenge for many teams, especially for those teams that work together on an off site or virtual basis, but closing the gap in communication will make everyone’s job easier and will ensure overall project success.
- Engage Team Members At All Times This is somewhat of a spin off of the point on communication listed above. All team members working on any project need to be privy of the specifications, correspondence, schedules, timelines, and especially the risks. Not only will this open the doors of communication and keep everyone on the same page, but it also lets team members know they are valued in every stage of the project.
Again, the challenges teams face today is that most team members work off site, virtually, and even in different time zones. When we all rely on email technology and electronic communication today, it is very easy to miss a detail here and there. Moral of the story? Project managers should do whatever necessary in order to keep ALL team members up to date and practice open communication, no matter where they are.
All in all, while dealing with risks many not be the most exciting part about being a project manager—some may argue that it is the most challenging—it is certainly not an area that should be taken lightly. Practicing the items outlined above will ensure that the proper measures are taken to identify and deal with risks, as well as develop and design risk response plans. This will help ensure that projects transition and are completed smoothly.