12 February 2007

Risk Management 101 Roundup

I hope that this series of articles has been useful. It is provided as an introduction to the concepts of project risk management. Don't stop here though. Read more and contribute to the discussion with your thoughts and ideas.

To wrap it up I have decided to map the project risk knowledge area against the other 8 knowledge areas of the PMBOK. My comments are only off the top of my head but I think they are a good place to start thinking about risks.

Risks are there and, as a diligent project worker, the thing you need to be doing is identifying them and working out what to do about them. So I present these to show that there are risks inherent in project management, as well as in the individual project/product configurations out there.

Use them as a launching pad for your own risk analysis.

1. Project Integration Management
The more complex a project is the more likely it will fail through integration. The points of failure to look at are the plan and the people. Has enough time been allocated to planning, have the right people been engaged, and does the project team have the experience and capability to the job well.

2. Project Scope Management
"Scope creep can be managed through change requests, but changes still increase cost and delay the delivery time. And they are insidious, coming in as small incremental changes until the scope has become significantly more challenging and the business case much more marginal. Think about the scope up front; is it achievable (with the people and experience you have.) Is it clearly articulated? Does it align with business strategy? Does everyone get it?"

3. Project Time Management
Have you allowed yourself enough time to plan and do the work? Rushing will cause mistakes and often projects are already expensive enough without having to rework and clean up messes.

4. Project Cost Management
Forecasting cost/effort on software is notoriously difficult. Technology keeps changing and so do the staff. Methods such as agile put the programmers close to the people who define the requirements, but do THEY know what they really want? Projects iteratively improve their estimates, but up front you really have only a vague idea of your costs. How will you manage the uncertainty?

5. Project Quality Management
A key risk here is to know what Quality is. It is much less likely to be number of production defects than the level of customer delight.

6. Project Human Resource Management
It is absolutely critical to have the right team. Take your time on hiring and get the right people. The delay to start-up will pay for itself later when you don't have the same number of schedule delays and scope changes.

7. Project Communications Management
It's almost impossible to not communicate enough on projects, but you can communicate ineffectively. Know your audience and know their needs. Communicate to them, but also listen.

8. Project Procurement Management
Are your suppliers reliable? Have you worked with them before? Did they do a good job? Do they deliver to the letter of the contract or are they looking for a satisfied customer? Have you done due diligence checks on them? Have they got any statements of quality (ISO accreditation, customer testimonials, etc.) And are your project team talking regularly to your suppliers? The written word only goes so far.