Have you done an initial risk assessment? Have you logged all your project risks? Does that mean your project is safe?
Lay the Foundations
Making a good start with risk management involves more than doing an initial risk assessment and logging the resultant risks. It doesn’t matter how sophisticated the risk rating system is. In fact, to ensure all project stakeholders are able to understand the risks, it’s better to keep it as simple and easy to use as possible. If you are going to use automated risk management software, usability is a priority.
What’s far more important is to ensure you establish a good procedure for the ongoing management of the initial risks and any new ones that arise during the life of the project.
Set the Tone
Like project issue management, risks need to be actively managed.
- Hold regular project risk management meetings
- Assign responsible owners to each risk
- Agree mitigation actions
- Post due dates
- Track and record progress
See this process as an excellent opportunity to not only ensure your project is protected against risk, but also to engage with your project team, sponsors, users and other stakeholders. It is an additional chance to get to know your project people. It also includes them in the overall running of the project.
Always, especially in the beginning, try to run the risk management meetings yourself, as the project manager.
Even if you are managing a large project or program with many team leaders or project leaders, demonstrate your control of the project by establishing the risk management process. You will be coaching by example and your people will learn the process by participation.
Eventually, as the workload increases, some of your team and/or project leaders will be comfortable with the process and run their own risk management meetings. The benefit of doing it this way is it establishes a habit and a pattern and leads to consistency across the project.
Always make visibility a priority. It establishes integrity and increases credibility. It also gives opportunities for further discussion and engagement. If sponsors, senior users and other stakeholders feel included in the ups and downs of a project, they are more likely to lend support when it is needed.
I’ll probably say this often, that scrutiny into the details should be invited from the start. This again fosters engagement and avoids unpleasant surprises later. For example, inviting an early project audit of all aspects, including risks, will prepare you for a later, perhaps compulsory audit. Benefits all round and project risks are taken care of!