Risk, Risk, Risk, Can you avoid it? Can you plan it?

I came across an article that talks about managing risk on our projects.  Brad Egeland, who is the author of the article implies that the risk can be mitigated by dedicating a chunk of the project money to the risk.  He also points out that, there are times where we create a risk management plan but don’t follow through with it due to time or budget constraints.  I totally agree with Egeland that well documented risk management process is always going to be a great strategy to follow.  What happens when you don’t have enough money to asses or plan for risk?  Do projects without any budget assigned to risk fail?

In class we have learned that, to manage risk we must proactively attempt to recognize and manage internal events and external threats that could potentially affect the project.  One of the most asked questions on the project is “What could go wrong?”.  Many times we are uncertain of the consequences of our actions until they are completed.  There are times where we can sit down and really ponder about the situation that could potentially put the project at risk.  Usually ideas that put a project at risk are put on the side and quickly forgotten.  Risk management teaches us to be more proactive than reactive.  I think everyone can agree that being proactive could potentially eliminate most of the risks from the project unless we experience unforeseen risks.  At that moment we better have some kind of a contingency plan that will reduce the negative impact of a risk event.  Contingency plan will usually require some kind of a budget.  Depending on the project, the risk assessments could identify additional budget requirements or reserves as some might call them.

Many times I jump into a project without thoroughly assessing the situation for risk.  Risk is not something that we think about everyday.  Most of us usually react to the situation and are not proactively estimating the potential risk.  Once the problem arises, I personally document what went wrong.  I start from the beginning and trace all my steps to find out how,why and where did this go south.  Once I have determined the root cause of the problem I am more inclined not to make the same mistake twice.  The reason many of us jump into the project without looking at the risks is because risk planning takes long time and sometimes is unavoidable.  Some might argue that risk planning should depend on the size of the project.  I would strongly recommend that even a small project should have some kind of a risk assessment.  At the end of the day don’t we all want to be perfect?

If you would like to read more about managing risk on our projects please feel free to read Brads article.  The article could be found at http://blog.aecsoftware.com/2015/04/are-we-really-managing-risk-on-our-projects/

6 thoughts on “Risk, Risk, Risk, Can you avoid it? Can you plan it?

  1. Great post! I completely agree with you in the sense that we normally jump into projects before accessing or even thinking about possible risks that can occur. For me it isn’t an avoidance mechanism, I just simply don’t think about risks and that the project can go wrong (too optimistic, I know). Now having to understand a little more about the benefits to acknowledging the risk, it is a critical practice to ensure that your project will in fact be successful. Even addressing some of the unavoidable and unpredictable risks can help plan a better event because it forces you to be prepared by developing an alternate plan. For example, if I had to plan an outdoor event, I would consider weather as an unpredictable risk and I could be better prepared by having an alternate indoor venue or setting up a tent.

  2. I thought this article was very vague when discussing a Risk Management Plan. I would have liked to see more detail about how to structure such a plan and ideas about quantifying qualitative risks. I understand that the article was just a general reminder to not overlook risk on projects, but it peaked my interest and I was left with more questions than when I started.
    I agree with the idea that project risk is important to identify. In your synopsis, you speak about how easily risk is overlooked, and I completely agree. There is nothing worse than getting caught off guard by something which was foreseeable had you vetted it out. Often the unthinkable happens and we are left reacting quickly and needing to reassess resources and timelines. Better to be safe than sorry!

  3. Thanks for sharing your insights. I have been involved in projects where risk management was stated as a priority at the beginning of the project, but was eventually overlooked. This resulted in the team working in reactionary/firefighting mode. I find most projects approach risk management as a one-time, “check-box” type of activity, rather than an ongoing process. Risk management must be repeated each time the project environment changes. As project managers the challenge is to determine how frequently this evaluation needs to be done.

  4. Thanks for sharing the article and your thoughts. I agree with Daniel’s comment that many project teams thoroughly evaluate risk in the early stages of the project and lose sight of it as the project progresses, especially when the project is going well. It is when the project hits a snag that they are reminded they haven’t updated the risk plan. At this point, it may take a lot of resources to get the project back on track or worse too late to mitigate or eliminate the risk. A good risk plan in the beginning and assessment of the risks at every stage in the project is very important for a successful project.

  5. Thank you for sharing this article. I also wrote about dealing with risk, so it was interesting to read another author’s perspective. You have a very valid approach in documenting what went wrong, because how else can one learn and avoid previous mistakes if not learning from them. Many projects within our firm could be viewed as unsuccessful because there are common themes in the factors that led to unavoidable failures. Underestimating the risk factors and their magnitude could lead to missed deadlines, unexpected additional costs and termination of the project manager or project team.

  6. Great article, it is extremely interesting. Risk can’t be avoided i feel, coping with risk is extremely interesting to read in effort to another opinion. You can always find the outlier in a project. My job looks deep into every project to avoid these risks and create successful projects. Resources to get projects back on track play a major role in success of a project. Some projects start off shaky in the beginning but find success through resources that determine the success of the overall project. Risk factors must be taken serious, someones job can be on the line if underestimation occurs.

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