The APM PMQ qualification (and it’s introductory precursor APM PFQ) includes a great emphasis on risk management within a project, and shows project managers how they can effectively prepare for risks within the project environment. The benefits of being able to deal with risks in an effective and proactive way are immense, and companies could save a lot of time, money and manpower if more projects adopted robust risk management strategies for the projects they run.
Key rules of risk management in projects
- Make risk management a set task within the project
If you do not completely embed risk management into the project management structure, then it won’t happen. Risk management should be part of every person’s day to day routine, and adopting this strategy throughout the organisation will ensure the full benefits can really be felt.
- List the risks before you start
Before any part of the project is mapped out, planned, brainstormed or otherwise thought about, it is essential to get those risks identified and listed down to enable future planning to take place. Usually a quick session during a team meeting is enough to get the major and most obvious risks listed down. No doubt other risks will crop up that have not been identified at this stage of the project, but this should be enough to get a grip on the most important ones.
- Communicate the risks
Keep risks on the agenda at every opportunity. Stick risk discussions on the list for team meetings, and give everyone the opportunity to raise any new ones and discuss existing ones in an open and honest format. With some of the major risks, it can be a good idea to involve the project sponsor in the discussions, as some of the decisions there may fall outside of the remit of the project manager.
- Consider opportunities as well as threats
It’s all too easy to think of project risks as the bad guys in the scenario, however some risks actually come with some opportunities for the project too. Some uncertain events may be able to make the project go faster, more efficiently or more profitably, so keep an open mind and exploit these opportunities if they do come up.
- Take ownership of risks
As much as making a list of risks is a good start, unless someone is responsible for each risk on the list, there was little point in that exercise. Allocate every risk on that list to members of the project team, and ensure they are aware it is their individual responsibility to minimise and monitor that risk, and to feedback to the team on issues.
- Analyse, prioritise and put your efforts in where they are most needed
Treating all risks equally might be one way to approach things, but in reality it makes no sense at all. Imagine you put as much time and effort into planning for a volcanic eruption that destroys the office (an unlikely scenario) as you put into contingencies for budgetary alterations (a more likely event). There would be a lot of wasted time and effort if this was the case. Analyse the likelihood of risks occurring, and prioritise the ones you need to put proper risk responses in place for, and those which you will just monitor for the time being.
By attending one of the project management courses that leads to the APM PMQ qualification project managers can learn even more great strategies for risk management in projects, and gives them a framework on which to hang their risk management strategy and actions so that every project is managed in a well thought out and planned manner.