10 Golden Rules of Project Risk Management

If you are planning to ever lead a project this article is an absolute MUST read! It provides the 10 golden rules for the application of risk management in every project. Based on the author’s personal experiences of over 15 years, the article discusses how to deliver on time, on budget, meeting sponsors’ quality demands.

Rule 1: Make risk management part of your project

Risk management tools should not only be part of daily operations, but also included during meetings or staff training.

My 2 cents…It would be almost ignorant to not include risk management in a project. You would simply be setting the project up for failure.

Rule 2: Identify risks early in your project

The author points out two main sources to identify risk: people (offering personal experiences and expertise) and paper (project plan, business cases).

My 2 cents…Identifying the risks either through human capital or documents is the first step. Dealing with them timely and properly is the real challenge during a project with multiple phases.

Rule 3: Communicate about risks

Communication should be a component in every task carried out during the project. By having a dialogue as these arise, the team will have a chance to discuss and handle.

My 2 cents…Communication! Communication! Communication! It is absolutely critical to communicate risks with all stakeholders as they arise to help prevent disasters later on during the project. If you are not sure of the whole impact of a risk, bring it up during a meeting. There is nothing worse than foreseeing an issue, not addressing it to later be faced with irreversible consequences.

Rule 4: Consider both threats and opportunities

Many project teams group opportunities under the risk category when in fact these might be ways to help improve the project. Overloaded with work and pressured to meet deadlines, projects with decent pay-offs are bypassed.

My 2 cents…Once on a project, the marketing director asked me to write my own SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for those without a marketing background). I thought she was crazy and undermining my skills since I was fresh out of college. The project ended up being one of the best ones I was a part of because my knowledge and experience were used in the correct phases or milestone tasks.

Rule 5: Clarify Ownership Issues

Someone needs to be held responsible for certain tasks and be prepared to deal with them and take ownership. Simply writing down a list of the potential issues isn’t enough especially when money is at stake and someone will have to empty their wallet?

My 2 cents…Clarifying ownership is critical for the success of a project. If team members are not held responsible for individual tasks or risks, the project will be doomed for failure as fingers will be pointed left and right.

To read the remaining five rules, please refer to the article https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/10-golden-rules-of-project-risk-management.php

Which one of the rules do you find most important for the success of the project and can you think of any in addition to his list?

Thank you for reading my blog!





Too scared to tell the truth

I am sure most of you have witnessed at your organization or during your tenure as PM on a large, visible project, the reluctance to pass bad news to you or your PM until things hit the ceiling. As a PM , nothing is more scarier than not knowing the real status of the project until when the deadline appears. I was interested to know, what should the PM do to encourage team members to report back honest status to the PM and above. I found this interesting article in LinkedIn that talks about just this topic.


According to author following are some of the ways that PM’s can deal with this issue

1. Don’t shoot the messenger- Encourage team members to be forthright about issues and risks that they see to timelines. The attitude of PM should be that of a shared responsibility (we are a team), rather than threaten team members.

2. Meaningful status meetings- Status meetings should be more of a question answer session rather than the usual “what is the status and blockers” line. Advanced (specific) questioning on individual deliverable will yield more than the “it’s all OK boss” response.

3. Understanding the technology – Knowing a little about the underlying technology implemented in the project will help PM’s do some advanced questioning or additional probing of individual deliverable. In my opinion, this will also help the PM’s to be more tightly integrated with the team. I know some PM’s that prefer to stick to scheduling and plan management and they end up siloed.

4. Each milestone is a project – The author in the LinkedIn article recommends to treat every duration between milestones as if it were a project in itself, with the upcoming milestone as the terminal date. This minimizes the tendency for people to think they have plenty of time to make up for schedule slippage and budget overrun.

As one of the comments on the author’s article sums it up – This takes a kind, humble, yet confident and assertive leader. Employees won’t be scared of the PM’s wrath, but will rather not want to disappoint the PM.

How do you engage peers and team members to be honest and proactive in communicating risks about the project?
How do you coordinate and communicate bad news about the project to your superiors?