I have just tried to read a book on Risk Management, and failed. My interest had been stirred by some new thinking (to me anyway) on risk that I picked up from a recent Prince2 training course. This is addition to the fact that I have been participating as an investor in the risk markets for a number of years got me thinking that you have to take risk in order to enjoy the rewards. So I am coming to the view that taking the “right” risks applies to my professional life as well as my part-time hobby investing.
The Prince2 insight came from a couple of words. The first is rather than think of “risk” think of “uncertainty“. What uncertainties do you see in your project? and this is where my attention turned to all the assumptions we make as project managers. Assumptions in estimating, thinking our stakeholders know their business requirements, availability of staff etc etc.
If you think of risks as uncertainties then to me they come alive, which brings me on to my next point. It is the “Management” part of the term. We should be actively doing something with these uncertainties, in two senses
- We need to track the uncertainty. Take the availability of staff, if our plan requires x days per week from key staff then track it. The same for estimating assumptions – when you begin to collect actual data, compare it to your estimates.
- The second point is to form a plan should the risk / uncertainty materialise. What will you do if you do not get the commitment from key staff? What will you do if your estimates are out by 20%?
Many of us will do a risk assessment at the start of the project, then once a risk profile for the project is understood happily forget about risk and get on with delivering. But I hope like me you can see that managing uncertainties is an integral part of the project manager’s role and is an ongoing element of the project.