The Role of Risk Management in Project Management – Strong Advice

Aug 18, 2020, 4.25am UTC (+4) 

8 mins Read 

We have long known it’s impossible to perfectly predict the events of the future. Yet you would agree, seeking to predict the future is necessary if we are to overcome the risk inherent in every project undertaking, we are involved. 

In recent times, the entire world has been shaken by the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic which undoubtedly affected human lives, government operations, and not in the least business projects. You and many other project managers, chief executive officers (CEOs), and business professionals are most likely pondering the similar questions, ‘how do we safeguard our future projects from being affected by uncertainties as covid19?’ ‘what do we do with our on-going projects affected by the pandemic?’ 

This and many more questions are in the minds of many. The aim of the article is to provide you ways on how to integrate risk into all your project engagements. 

WHAT IS RISK MANAGEMENT IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT? 

It is not uncommon for a project manager to simply tick the box of risk management rather than actively practice risk management principles at every stage during a project. 

Risk Management as a discipline in project management is simply a means of identifying, assessing and mitigating threats that might affect the successful outcome of a project. 

Because of the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world we live in now, risk management strategies, processes, and plans have taken on a heighten level of significance at every organizational level and project management. 

Project management on the other hand now embodies new complexities that didn’t exist only a decade ago. The disruption of several industries because of new digital technologies have transformed the project management landscape as many projects are being executed digitally. These new trends are shaping the way teams are managed. The offline face to face communication with gradually being phased out with near-complete virtual communications. Also, the demand for project managers to run projects over digital technologies, like Zoom and Microsoft teams and many more have reached an all-time high and its effects have only just begun. 

Thus, this understanding of the emerging project management landscape as led to an increased responsibility for the role of risk management strategies in project management practices.  

You might wonder, how would I intentionally navigate the role of risk management in my next digital project. Well, below are 3 helpful steps to take in integrating risk into your projects. 

3 RISK MANAGEMENT STEPS TO OVERCOME CHALLENGES IN YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT PRACTICE
  1. RISK MANAGEMENT DOESN’T STAND ALONE IN PROJECTS 

It is important to remember, risk management functions under the overarching goals and objectives of project management. Project managers should strongly guard against the instinct to treat it as a separate standalone strategy with their unique goals. Its goals should have its origin from the overall project goals. 

Before engaging risk management, project teams should first carefully understand the project in which the risk management strategies aim to access. Some helpful questions to do these are? 

  1. What is this project about and why are we undertaking it? 
  1. What is this project about and why are we undertaking it? 
  1. What is this project about and why are we undertaking it? 
  1. How much risk tolerance do we allow as an organization for this project? 
  1. When these risks occur how will we handle it based on the project guidelines and policies? 

These questions and many more, will help you appropriately understand the foundational implications of risk on the entire project scope. 

  1. DRAFT A COMPREHENSIVE AND DETAILED RISK MANAGEMENT PLAN 

Drafting a comprehensive risk management plan is a great way to guide the entire team to identify, assess, handle and monitor risk. The risk management plan is a document that facilitates the handling and monitoring of uncertainties that may affect the successful outcome of a project.  

A good risk management plan is drafted with a team consisting of several key stakeholders instrumental to a given project. Stakeholder involvement allows for the identification of certain risks that otherwise might not be made known by the other project team members. 

To draft a comprehensive risk management plan, below is a reference of a template designed on iAuditor by Safety Culture 

  1. ASSIGN RISK OWNERS 

It is important to delegate the responsibility of identifying and responding to risks to a team member within the project. This delegate doesn’t have to be the project manager. Usually the project manager should provide oversight while orchestrating an array of several components to bring the project to a success. 

Two benefits of having a separate member own risk within a project are: 

  1. It allows for the Project Leader to focus his/her attention on other elements of the project while providing oversight in handling risk. 
  1. It helps the project team to be constantly risk aware even with or without the project leader present. 

Overall, risk accountability guards the team from under-prioritizing risk. 

In conclusion, whether you are just starting out in project management or you’re a veteran. It is important to keep in mind the vital role risk management plays in the larger project management effort. 

Also, remember to draft a visible and accessible risk management plan for all members of the project team who are involved in actualizing the project. 

Finally, ensure to delegate responsibility to champion risk management in every project undertaken. A person who would identify and response to risk as they happen all through the project. 

How important do you think the role of risk management is in Project management practice of your organization and what role can your organization play in prioritizing it?  

Let us know in the comments below. 

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By Leke Abaniwonda 
Staff at StrongAdvice😊
+971523539767 

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