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Manage Risk in Your Project

As a project manager, it all comes down to risk. How much risk are you willing to take? How much risk is your customer willing to tolerate? Are you a risk taker, risk neutral or risk adverse – or do you even know? Every single and every day project managers make key decisions that lead you to the path of project completion. Sprinkled within those decisions are opportunities to identify, evaluate, and think about the risk(s) related to project success. Come with me on a journey to discover for your self a process You are able to go via as you address and monitor risk for your projects.

Let’s begin using the harsh realities. Nobody appears to have time for planning. Typically you are given a project that is already underway and you haven’t even defined the scope completely. Typical scene? How you handle this situation will be the difference between you being an “ok” project manager and among the very best! It’s your selection.

You can integrate fundamental risk management into your project without having your project stakeholders even realizing what you are doing (This doesn’t mean your stakeholders will not be involved!) Risk management entails: 1) Risk Identification 2) Risk Assessment and Analysis 3) Risk Response Planning and 4) Risk Monitoring and Control. However, it’s HOW you implement these processes that will make a big distinction within the success of your project.

Risk Identification – involves the identification and documentation of the risk (positive and negative) that could impact your project. It consists of the obvious and not so obvious things including; lack of technical training for your staff, lack of commitment from the customer for sufficient resources, making use of bleeding edge technologies, needing to implement something quickly, grappling with defining requirements clearly and completely. The key to risk identification is involving the best individuals to identify what the risks are for this given project. As knowledgeable as you, the project manager, may possibly be – you are simply one individual together with your given viewpoint and experiences. Hold a “risk workshop” where you really brainstorm with the customer, sponsor, team members, end users, impacted business units and any other experts distinct to the solution you might be implementing. Document ALL tips that surface from the meeting. Guarantee it truly is CLEAR what the identified risks are. It is ideal to have someone facilitate this session, but if needed, the project manager could provide the facilitation. By involving the “right” individuals, this significantly increases your chances of identifying the numerous risk items that may impact your project. The workshop, nevertheless, serves an additional quite essential role: obtaining buy-in from the stakeholders on what the risk items are for this project. If among the risk events does surface later within the project, they will not be as “surprised” by the event. In the event a brand new risk surfaces that the stakeholders did not identify – much less finger pointing occurs due to the fact every person had a chance to identify risks at the onset of the project. Please bear in mind that as your project evolves and scope modifications, you need to re-visit the risk identification process. This isn’t a one-time shot at the beginning of the project.

All this becoming said leads us to a question: How ought to the project manager proceed with estimation? The answer: perhaps the practice does not change considerably, but the process is accomplished OPENLY, employing regular processes, which includes a full-circle communication process. Regular practices, for example utilizing the PERT technique – asking for and processing individuals optimistic, most most likely and pessimistic estimates, and offering conditions for the estimates (i.e. this job can be performed by a technician of average competency in two weeks if they’re not interrupted by other work demands) promotes additional thought and consideration for estimates. Standard formulas, like (Optimistic + (4*Most Likely) + Pessimistic)/6 can then be applied to establish a PERT estimate. Secondly, reviewing the actual outcome against the original estimate with the estimator and also the person that performed the work demonstrates your dedication to the process and supplies a means to educate and drive improvement for the job estimators. All this enhances your dedication to the process and importance of estimating accurately, demonstrates a nicely thought out approach, and upholds your integrity from a relationship standpoint. Have an approach, follow the approach and involve and educate your team members on that approach is the very best approach to maintain your integrity when approaching the estimation process.

Individual Interactions

Additionally to solid integrity in approaching the estimation process, you can find numerous instances where interactions with your team, sponsor along with other stakeholders can inadvertently alter their perception of you and your abilities. One straightforward but usually overlooked item: are you an optimist or a pessimist by nature? The impressions you give stakeholders about the status of the project or the impact of events – versus what actually transpires – can significantly alter how you might be perceived, and how stakeholders will react to your opinions and impressions.

Status reporting – in certain judging when to share an issue with management or the project sponsor – entails a series of judgment calls that may be pivotal in forming perceptions of your abilities as a project manager. As a general rule communicating an problem will probably be more beneficial, as long as that sharing is accompanied having a summary of the actions being taken and your approach for offering ongoing updates on the status of the concern. PM’s really should steer clear of the temptation to focus on fixing the problems that surface with out communicating them as a means of “not rocking the boat” or looking like you cannot work via problems. The odd situation that makes its method to your manager or the sponsor and “blindsides” them will set you back significantly. Carefully assess the possibility of an concern surfacing to your management; if a possibility exists, it’s wiser to communicate the situation as well as the action you’re taking to resolve the problem. If unsure, it’s usually better to over-communicate than under-communicate.

Lastly, be consistent. Outside of being dishonest, the item that can do one of the most to erode the reputation of a project manager is being inconsistent or unpredictable. Setting expectations, including the basics of establishing roles and assignments to the format of reports, establishing when and how situations are communicated to you as the project manager, and when and how you interact along with your customers is pivotal to the success of the project manager. Instances where reports from the project team aren’t provided on a fixed schedule or contain inconsistencies in references (i.e.. What specifically constitutes a status of green, yellow or red?) can speedily erode your perception as an individual who’s “in control”. Tools like project glossaries can come in handy to make sure the project team along with the customer use the exact same terms in a consistent fashion, avoiding embarrassing and expensive misinterpretations. Focusing on consistency can benefit the project manager, contributing to your perception for both the short and long term.

Performance Management

Are you “transparent” when communicating your perception of your team member’s performance? Being transparent in this case means that anything you’d say to a manager you’d (and hopefully have!!!) stated to the team member directly. Though you may determine to be more careful in deciding on your words or take a coaching approach in how you communicate your perceptions when talking directly to the team member, ultimately stating the exact same thing you convey to any manager or sponsor to the employee too is paramount to maintaining your integrity. Furthermore, receiving ongoing trust and support from team members – for this project and also the next – needs open and frequent feedback that’s consistent with actual performance. Spending time on this is one thing that several PM’s overlook. Accurately assessing individual performance not merely offers a means to improve individual performance, however it also indirectly assists other team members develop trust inside your leadership. Addressing sub-par performance helps the team be much more efficient, and eases the burden on well performing employees to “make up” for the deficiency of the non-performer. Neglecting to address these performance problems invoke a “triple threat” – the existing project suffers, the dedication of your team members on future projects will not be forthcoming, and your perception as a project manager will deteriorate speedily. Focus on your team and their performance, and your integrity is much more most likely to be a positive one.


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