Risk Management: A Serious Concern for any Project Manager

One of the most important jobs of a project manager is to predict any sort of problems or risks that might hamper the project progress. These sorts of risks can be a serious issue when they affect the project schedule or quality of project outputs and eventually the project will fail. That is why, the project manager should always be concerned about the proper identification of possible risks and the most effective ways to avoid those risks, or when necessary, drawing up plans to minimize their effect on the overall project.

The project manager, in course of time, may have to face different sorts of risks.  Specifically, there are some risks that are serious enough to affect the project schedule or budget, even the   resources. For example, skillful and experienced staffs may leave the project in a crucial time when their services and contributions are vitally required for the project success. There may also be the cases when the competent staffs remain absent due to serious illness. Again, it may also be the case when the project sponsors come forward and suggest about some urgent changes in project requirements or project goals when more than 50% activities of the project are finished. Sometimes cutting-edge or newest technology may create unexpected problems. It is also possible that budget is identified as inadequate after completion of a major portion of project activities. The project manager should always remain alert about these risks and be prepared for the possible solutions.

Analyzing the likelihood and consequences of these risks is something with which the project manager must always be careful. He/she should make a rational judgment about the probability and also the severity of these risks. The consequence of some risks will be catastrophic, while some risks will create tolerable or insignificant problems. Proper analysis of these risks is absolutely vital to avoid the project failure.

As a project manager, I always make sure about listing all possible risks that may create serious problems. I also make sure that this list is updated in a regular manner. Moreover, I also keep record about the possible strategies that I may adopt for managing these risks efficiently. I always set priorities to the risks so that I can decide which type of risks I would address in an urgent manner. This planning always helps me to take necessary actions in an appropriate manner in case of emergency situations.

There could be many possible and effective remedial solutions for a particular risk. For example, the project manager must ensure that the team really works effectively and everybody understands each other’s job. Hence, the problem of staff turnover or staff illness can easily be handled by just reorganizing the team. In case when appropriate staffs cannot be hired, the top management and project sponsors should be immediately involved and deadline for finishing the project can be extended when required.

Communication is always important when managing any sort of risks in the project. The project manager should organize formal and informal meetings with the top management and project sponsors, as well as all the team members so that important ideas regarding risk avoidance and risk minimization may come out from them. One particular idea from a team member may become extremely useful for managing certain risk in an efficient manner. Assistance from external consultants may also be considered in case of necessity.

Another important job of a project manager is to ensure about monitoring the risks regularly so that he/she can assess the effects of the risks and see whether the remedial actions are proper or not. In case of necessity, he/she can change the risk-minimization plan and take different course of actions that may seem appropriate in any particular situation. In a large project where there are hundreds of minor risks, it is not possible for the project manager to manage all the risks at a time. In this situation, he/she should delegate authority to the team members and try to focus only on major problems. At the end of the day, the project manager will be ultimately responsible, so he/she should monitor regularly to make sure that every team member is doing his/her job properly.

In short, the success or failure of a project largely depends on how well the project manager handles the issue of risk management. Therefore, the project manager must always be careful and try his level best in order to tackle all sorts of risks in a successful and timely manner.

 

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About Niaz

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Niaz Makhdum is a project management specialist, with a management focus in technical project management. For the last year he has been a Program Officer for IDB-BISEW, and before that he was a lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the State University of Bangladesh. He holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies at the University of Dhaka. He is also a freelance project manager and can be hired via his oDesk page: https://www.odesk.com/users/~~acb24039e1cb0c6e