Once the project manager and project team understand the importance of risk management, it’s time to get to work on planning for and managing around these potential risk events.
Here are the steps that the team – with the customer – should go through to properly prepare for risks on the project:
This is the most critical task – brainstorming with your team and customer to identify potential risk events that could affect your project. Make sure that your team and customer fully understand the importance of this process in the overall project management methodology. Without proper analysis of the risks that could potentially affect your project, you are leaving your customer, your team, and all the hard work that is going into the engagement exposed to possible serious threats. One major realized risk could ruin your project budget, timeline, or get your project canceled altogether.
Sit down with your team and customer and document all possible risks that all of you can come up with. There are many available risk planning project management templates available – choose one that works best for your project. This list must be a living list that is continually reviewed throughout the engagement. My suggestion is weekly during the weekly status meetings.
Analyze each identified potential risk. Assess a weight or value to each one. You won’t be able manage for every risk – that would take too much time and money. Identify your risk threshold and manage to that. All risks above the threshold – those are the ones you’ll manage for. The risks below the threshold are ones that you and your team consider as not likely enough or critical enough to spend time and money on.
Preparing a risk mitigation strategy
In your risk list, with each risk that you know you will be managing for, plan a risk mitigation strategy. These are the actions that you will take in order to minimize the potential impact to the project should the risk event actually occur.
Completely avoiding the potential risk event is a highly recommended route to take if it is possible and feasible. For example, if you’ve identified going with a certain database software as a risk, an avoidance measure would be to alter the requirements so that a different database software could be used in order to avoid the risk completely. If this is feasible for the project, then it may be a good action to take.
Finally, manage and control the risks on a weekly basis. Make risk review and management part of your overall team activity during weekly status meetings with the customer. Keeping the risks out in front of everyone weekly will give your project and risk management strategy it’s greatest chance for success.