It is impossible to avoid risks in projects but by tracking them effectively you can ensure that they cause as little disruption as possible. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when doing this.
Avoid Nasty Surprises
A risk which you know about is very different from one you don’t know anything about. Your project can be completely ruined by unexpected risks so it is vital that you avoid this from happening. The only way of doing this is, of course, by knowing what the risks are and their current levels. The work to do this begins at the start of the project, when you put together the project documentation and draw up a list of project risks to be signed off. However, it then has to continue and you need to make sure that you are aware of any emerging risks or any one which has moved onto a higher level of probability.
Everyone else involved in the project will want to know about the risks you are monitoring and what you are doing about them. The simplest and best way of dealing with the situation is by making the reporting of risks an integral part of your project. You should include a red / yellow / green status indicator on your weekly reports and also make it something is covered in your project meetings ever time. This means that your team members and stakeholders will be as aware of the situation as you are and can therefore help you out whenever they need to. You will also want to encourage information and suggestions from the people who can help you out with any risks which have been identified or which might crop up later on. They need to feel that they can get involved and help out when the time is right.
Prioritize the Risks
Only by knowing what the risks are and by tracking them can you hope to prioritize them. This is important because you need to know which ones to spend most time on and which ones can be left with less strict control. We tend to think that the most urgent risks are the ones which could have the greatest possible impact on the objectives. However, you also need to bear in mind that the time factor is important too. That is to say that you could have a risk which isn’t as serious as some others in terms of the seriousness of the possible consequences but which could have a great deal of time pressure involved in it. In other cases it could be the other way round and you don’t want to neglect either type of risk.
Plan Your Actions
Again, it is only by knowing all about the risks that you can hope to plan for them effectively. If you don’t keep on top of them then you run the risk of let them slip away from you and not knowing how to react when the time comes to do something. A good project manager will know what the risks are and what to do about them when. You will probably consider the risks in the project as being one of the areas which you can’t control or plan very much. This is true up to a point but you still need to do as much as you can to plan ahead, just as you in other part of the project. Unless you know exactly where you stand then this will be impossible to do.
Know Where You Are
When a project gets hectic and you get put under pressure is when you really get to see the benefit of being prepared. This applies in just about every aspect of the piece of work and that definitely includes the risks. By getting the right processes in place from the very beginning you will be able to manage the situation a lot better once you need to deal with an evolving, fast moving project. If you are working on an especially complex project then there is no way you will be able to keep track of it all without having the right processes in place. The last thing you want is for a risk to slip through your fingers and turn into a major problem. This might seem impossible at the start but later on the in the project you will be glad of any help you can get in remembering things and getting organized.
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