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 Is Too Much Time Spent Worrying About Project Risk, Than Dealing With Actual Project Reality? | PM Tools - PM Tools

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Is Too Much Time Spent Worrying About Project Risk, Than Dealing With Actual Project Reality?

You will often hear about the Project Risk Log and how important it is to the successful delivery of a project. Apparently this one document contains all the risks surrounding the project and enables them to be mitigated to ensure they don’t impact the delivery should they occur. Well that’s the theory anyway. The practice is of course very different.

You soon realise this as a Project Manager when attending your first Risk Workshop. Loads of people attend, few of whom you know, and all are frantically typing down any and everything imaginable. It is when the Workshop starts going through everything detailed that you feel your heart sinking as you discover the only risk known to mankind not listed is the one involving the possibility of a meteorite hitting earth and wiping out all the programmers!

Before you know it you have four hundred project risks listed and no way of reducing them. Worse still, all of these will have to be regularly maintained and updated. It basically becomes a major work overhead which you could easily do without.

And yet the obsession with risk continues. It has almost become something of a way for workstreams to make excuses upfront for their lack of delivery, because instead of forcing them to get their tasks done, it offers them a way out. So for example if there are potential resourcing issues, you want your workstream leads to find a way to resolve this rather than writing it down as a problem and washing their hands of it.

Despite this, an entire cottage industry appears to have grown up around this whole project area, very little of it devoted to ensuring the correct information is documented and mitigated. I know this from first hand experience. In a recent project I managed over three hundred were raised. They ranged from the valid to the most mind boggling. Despite this when the project was cancelled not one risk had been written down which covered the reason; that the credit crunch might force household incomes down and hence make it a bad time to increase product prices.

From my perspective there is definitely a key role to play in a project with regard to risk documentation, management and mitigation. The problem is that this has to be done correctly and in an effective way. If not then maintaining a log becomes an overwhelming task and ends up with the Project Manager forgetting about the actual delivery of the project. This soon leads to scope creep, budget overspends and eventually project failure.

my-project-management-expert.com details what the vital project risks are which you must raise and also how managing project risk will help you deliver a successful project.
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