From unforeseen obstacles, to changing requirements, projects are impacted by a wide range of uncertainties that can limit their success. The role of a project manager is not simply to crunch numbers, but also to proactively identify, assess and manage risks. In this blog, we will explore how a project manager can drive successful risk management and ensure project success.
1. Establish a Risk Management Framework
The first step towards successful risk management is to establish a risk management framework. This should include clear guidelines and procedures that indicate how risks will be identified, assessed, prioritised and managed throughout the project. The framework should be known by the project team and all project stakeholders to ensure risk management becomes a shared responsibility.
2. Create Awareness
Encourage everyone to identify and flag risks that might have an impact on the project. Instill the mindset that everyone is responsible for the success of the project. Proactive risk identification and open communication are key to mitigating risks in an early stage. Create an environment where team members feel empowered to raise concerns and provide risk mitigation strategies.
3. Identify Project Risks
Collaboration and open communication with the project team and the stakeholders are key to identifying risks proactively. The close relation of the project manager with both the project team and the stakeholders puts them in an ideal position to identify risks. However, risk management is not a one-person job. It is up to the project manager to encourage the project team and stakeholders to think creatively and critically about potential risks.
4. Create a Risk Register
Encouraging the project team and stakeholders to think about risks is one thing, but often everyone forgets about them or no actions are taken. By creating a risk register that is available for consultation by everyone with impact on the project, risks are not forgotten. It is up to the project manager to go over the identified risks with the rest of the team and the stakeholders to ensure the register stays up to date.
5. Risk Assessment
Facilitate a process to prioritise and analyse identified risks. Collaborate with the project team and stakeholders to evaluate the probability and potential impact of each risk. Try to do this via quantitative analysis techniques to assess these risks as objectively as possible. Consider how the risk will impact the project goal, planning, budget and team members.
6. Risk Mitigation
Work together with the project team and stakeholders to define a risk mitigation strategy. Prioritise high-impact risks that need immediate attention and define specific actions to mitigate them. Always assign a team member or stakeholder to the risk and a feasible deadline to ensure there will be a feeling of responsibility. Regularly update everyone on the risk status, mitigation progress and changes.
7. Communication and Escalation
Use meetings such as project steering committees to communicate and report risk-related information to the stakeholders. Provide timely updates on the status, mitigation actions and changes in the risks. Ensure transparent and open communication around risks is present within the scope of your projects. Escalating and aligning on risks early in the project will only increase the chances of success.
8. Keep Improving
Keep improving the risk management approach within a project by capturing lessons learned. Encourage everyone to think about successes, challenges and improvements for this process. Maintain documentation of best practices regarding risk management and develop an overview of all gathered knowledge for future projects.
Project managers are the driving factor in ensuring successful risk management.
They play an important role in establishing a risk management framework and create a culture that values risk awareness. Their close connection with both the project team and the stakeholders provides them with a unique perspective on risks that impact the project. It is clear that project managers pave the way towards effective risk mitigation and overall project success.
Author: Evelyn Van Roey, Project Management Officer at Xplore Group