Cost overruns, missed deadlines, resource shortages – these are the things that keep project managers up at night. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you are prepared for common project risks, you can rest a little easier.
Consider taking these four steps to mitigate the inevitable risks inherent in IT projects.
1. Create a process for identifying both risks and opportunities.
Review similar projects that have been completed to see what went well and what didn’t in order to anticipate the same types of issues with the current project. Communicate with all those involved in the project to be sure all voices are heard. One of the greatest risks to a project is groupthink, where individuals don’t feel free to speak up when they recognize a risk. Look also for factors within the project that have the potential for success or even a potential additional project.
2. Make a plan of attack for addressing risks.
Anticipate risks you are likely to encounter and the most effective means to resolve them. Don’t invest a lot of energy into worrying about unlikely risks. It’s a waste of time and brings unnecessary stress and can distract your attention from genuine risks you should be prepared to address. Instead make a list of realistic risks you may need to address and brainstorm solutions so you are prepared should they arise.
3. Assign an owner to monitor and report on potential risks.
If possible, categorize the different types of issues that are likely to occur and assign a point person to handle them. If you have done a good job creating your team, there is a high probably that each individual on the team will have unique strengths. Give team members the opportunity to make a genuine contribution by monitoring and resolving the risks around their area of expertise.
4. Set aside time weekly to review risks and risk management process.
Meet or otherwise report each week on risks that have been identified, resolved and those that can be identified. Project risks will not go away if you ignore them. Handle small problems and chances are they will never become large ones.