Risk Management is one of the bedrock skills of Project Managers and as such has a significant part to play in the success or failure of projects.
Unfortunately, risks are boring. As a Project Manager, time after time on mention of risks you can see the enthusiasm and life blood drain from your audience as you mention the dreaded ‘R’ word.
There is a fundamental problem with risks and it is based on their hypothetical nature. Risks are things that have the potential to occur which is much less interesting than fire fighting of the issues that are real and already in play.
Approving a project without an outline of the potential risks can lead to problems as some risks could be significant enough to stop a project before it starts.
A decent risk register is one that is initiated early on (project initiation/project charter) ahead of the project getting approval. Once a project starts the risk register should be updated with the input of project team members (subject matter experts, sponsor, stakeholders etc).
After initial review the risk register will be maintained by the Project Manager. This can potentially turn into a bureaucratic nightmare. Project Managers have to consistently review Risks to assess the effectiveness of mitigating activities and also to update eliminated risks, new risks and risks which may have materialized into issues.
I guess I have lost everyone already! 🙂
So, why put this much effort into things that haven’t happened and may not happen? As a Project Manager you have to be almost omnipotent – think of all potential blockers for the project and work out solutions, ways of eliminating the risk and in the worst case being ready to quickly resolve should the risk become an issue. If a risk materializes do you have the tools in place to resolve it? The resources? The budget? Is the project still valid?
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