Cover Your Risks from All Angles

Posted by Brad Egeland

As you engage on a project, either as a project manager, an independent consultant or both, there are many things you need to consider about the potential issues and risks that may come into play on your project.

I’ve written a lot in the past about the need for initial risk planning assessment and analysis.  While I can’t say that I’m great at practicing these risk activities, I can say that they are of the utmost importance and when I’ve made the time on a project to do adequate initial risk preparation, it has always been beneficial.  If nothing more, it makes the entire team and the customer aware that there  are risks out there that are much more than mere annoyances.  These risks can bring a project to its knees and could usually have been avoided by performing the proper analysis up front.

When analyzing and considering risks, there are a few angles to approach them from; as well as different categories that you need to consider in regards with the team and or customer.

Risk avoidance

I like this one the best because here you plan your project activities to actually avoid the risks that you’ve discussed.  Not all risks can truly be avoided or predicted, but if you can avoid them you are much better off.  You won’t have to battle it head on and it won’t potentially derail your project timeline and budget.

Risk mitigation

This is the next best thing to risk avoidance in that you have identified possible risks and come up with plans to mitigate, or lessen the severity of the risk should it present itself.  In this case the impact will affect the project in the form of a potential budget increase or a timeframe extension, but with proper planning you’ll know the action to take to lessen the blow to the project and maintain the necessary forward momentum.

Vendor risks and issues

If you are relying on outside vendors for your project then you are automatically introducing risk.  You can’t directly control those vendors, but you can make them aware of risk concerns, make them go through training on identifying how they’ll deal with potential risks, and even come up with backup vendors should major problems arise.

Customer induced risks and issues

The customer is part of the solution, but they can also be part of the problem.  Influences and issues on the customer side can throw a wrench into project progress.  Risks such as losing key customer personnel, funding issues, and slow decision-making can cause major project delays if not managed properly.  Make sure that the customer is aware of the potential risks they can cause and that they are working continuously throughout the project to help ensure those issues do not arise and affect negatively affect the project.

Consulting risks

Finally, watch out for yourself.  If you are working as an independent consultant – as I am – you are faced with a different kind of risk …. liability for the work you do and the decisions you make.  Liability insurance may be a good choice.  One such organization that helps IT professionals with this sort of need and concern is TechInsurance.  Getting liability insurance may be a requirement on some of your contracts or engagements and at the very least is likely just a good sound business decision.  For more information, TechInsurance specifically has an e-book, which you can access for free here.

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