Managing risk factors in projects

Are the best project managers risk managers?

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One of the best skills a project manager can have is the ability to tolerate and manage risk.

Risks in projects arise every day. There is a management change on the user or IT side; a critic quits his job; there are internal employee problems; a key supplier or product has unforeseen problems; The central subroutine called by the application unexpectedly fails. How do you recover from circumstances like these and keep a project on track?

First, let’s take a look at the recent achievements of the projects.

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In 2020, Standish Group reported that “66% of technology projects (based on an analysis of 50,000 projects globally) end up in partial or total failure” and that “31% of US IT projects have been completely canceled and the performance of 53% are so disturbing that they are challenged.’

This is worrisome. It also points to the need to manage project risks, as well as tasks, on a daily basis. What common risks do project managers face and how can they deal with them?

General project risk management

Supplier issues

If you are running a project that depends on a third-party vendor’s software, the vendor’s cooperation with the project is important. Unfortunately, vendors don’t always provide the level of support you need when you need it. This can delay project work.

One way to manage supplier risk is to reroute project work to other areas that are independent of the vendor. This way you can keep the project timeline intact.

If the project is so dependent on the supplier that it has to be stopped until the supplier can respond, the project manager must immediately notify upper management of the delay and why it happened.

One would think this would be a natural impulse – but sometimes that’s not the case. In one case, a project manager who was tight-lipped about notifying management believed he could count on a supplier to get through and ultimately lost his job. It is best to be upfront about project delays and promptly notify management and stakeholders.

Underestimate the difficulty of the project

As project tasks and timelines are developed, the project manager relies on area team leaders in different teams to define each task and estimate it. As an initial hedging measure, these team leaders provide range estimates with both low and high timelines. Unfortunately, that doesn’t prevent unwanted delays and bottlenecks from occurring.

To manage these risks, project managers should plan a higher time estimate and add 10% to that estimate for any tasks with a high degree of uncertainty. In some cases, you can’t add to the estimate because there’s a hard deadline that’s not negotiable, but in many cases you can.

Personnel risk

In very long and rigorous projects, the project manager must always think about the level of stress that is on the project team and the possibility that a key contributor may leave or be absent.

One way to manage the risk of staff loss, illness, and the impact of stress is to assess the bench strength of your project team before you begin a project.

If your senior application developer has a capable backup person who can step in, you’ve got good coverage. But if you only have one database officer who can design the schemas that you need for your project data, it would be wise to have a database consultant who can be call if you lose your database worker.

Bottom line: Stay calm and collect

Especially when your project is going through a rough patch and your employees are experiencing high levels of stress, you as a project manager should stay calm, collected and collected.

Employees look to the project manager for guidance, reassurance, and direction. If you remain unaffected by stress, neither will they. This is why leading by example is one of the best ways to manage project stress and reduce risk.

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