Minimizing Risk in Projects

When projects initially start very few people think about the risk involved at the onset of development and perhaps those few individuals that do stress the importance of risk management do so because of past experiences and from being exposed to lessons learned reports.  In the beginning of projects, the primary stakeholders are focused on the triple constraint of the product; the scope, time, and cost.   Teams concentrate their full attention on delivering the best products/service to the consumer or customers.  However, it’s very important to include risk management in the beginning of projects and not just at the tail end of development.  The significance will have a great impact on the triple constraint because it allows for a smooth and effective communication between project managers, team members and key stakeholders.  It also helps in creating safeguards on the project in the event that the worst case scenario occurs and it gives the team ample amount of time to provide a mitigating course of action.

There are a few ways to identify and mitigate risk and the first would be to enforce the idea of having specific deliverables at any given date.  If the scope of the deliverable is too vague, it means that the project needs to be broken down into smaller items.  Creating a work breakdown structure (WBS) can help with this practice.  Another issue that most teams do not consider as a tool for risk management is communication.  During team meetings, risk discussion is usually placed at the end of a meeting but this shows the priority it occupies in the project.  Reviewing risks should be at the top of the meeting agenda and should be the default topic of any meetings.  Another essential tip would be to discuss lessons learned which can help in identify bottlenecks that could again occur on the current project; an example would be budgeting and staffing.

Risk management should be at the top of any project cycle and discussion in order to stay within the triple constraint boundaries and deliver a quality product/service to the consumer/customers.  Identifying and acknowledging the existence of a particular risk and having control systems to help mitigate the impact and prevention will go a long ways in minimizing risk.