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Posts Tagged ‘Risk Management’

Are you Asking the Right Questions?

Posted by Ammar Mango on September 19, 2016

Image result for asking the right questions

Did you know that the most effective risk management takes place before the project is even started?  Here is why and how:

One of the most misunderstood knowledge areas of Project Management is risk.  At the theory level, there is a lot of literature talking about risk.  But mostly theoretical.  According to PMI’s PMBOK Fifth Edition, Project Risk Management: “includes the processes of conducting risk management planning, identification,
analysis, response planning, and controlling risk on a project.”

All true, but so theoretical.  I consider it theoretical because it leaves you with principles but no actions to take, beyond generic, mechanical steps of going through the motions of project management without really getting most of the intended benefits.

After 25 years of experience working on a few high stakes projects, I only wish that businesses focus more on practical risk management before and during project initiation; when risk is highest, and businesses have the best chance to influence risks.

Risk is about uncertainty, and uncertainty is best defined through questions.  Ask questions that encourage discussion of risk.

Do not ask stakeholders: “What could go wrong?”  or “What are the opportunities?”  Then you will get generic answers like: “We might be late” or “We might be over budget,” etc.

Instead, ask questions like: “If this project was a huge success, what would be the reason?” or “if it was a huge failure what would be the reason?” Another area to explore is “how have previous projects succeeded / failed?” Also”In our industry, how have previous companies messed up or did well on such a project?” and continue with the question: ” What can I do to make my project more like the successful ones, and unlike the failures?”  Finally, ask:” How can stakeholders help me in this endeavor of dealing with risk? The owners, clients, department managers, team, PM, etc.”

With such questions you will have much better chances of identifying real risks and dealing with them effectively.

Project Risk Management is where the project succeeds or fails.  Everything else in project management is there to serve risk management.




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Project Managers: Roll into the punch, not away from it

Posted by Ammar Mango on December 27, 2012

When a boxer gets a punch targeting the right side of his face, he moves always to the left, right? wrong.  If you watch boxers you will see that they move towards, not away from the punch for the most effective defense; It allows them to come back with a punch that puts the attacker off-balance.  Consider project issues and risks as punches and you would have a similar situation.  Let me explain.

I feel sorry for many project managers, including myself, when we try to avoid conflicts especially with key stakeholders.  What we forget is that the issue is still there even if we decide to stay away from it.  However, with project managers not attending to manage the conflict closely will allow the issue to become more dangerous to the project.

So, if you have a conflict, stay close to it.  Deal with it.  Engage it.  For example, if your client is not happy with your performance.  A natural response of the project manager is to avoid the client and reduce interaction with him or her.  This is exactly as running away from the punch.  As if the project manager is running away from the pain and suffering of the “punch.” This has many bad sides to it.

First, with you not around to manage the issue, the client will assume they are right in their assumptions and feel more frustrated.   Second, with you not close enough to the issue, others might contribute to making it worse.  Third, your fear and running away from the issue will give the impression that you are afraid which means you did something terribly wrong and you are not strong enough to face it and that you are not a partner, but a punching bag ready for more abuse.  Really.  We do not want any of that in a relationship with one of the most important, if not the most important, stakeholder on your project.

I agree, sometimes cooling off is required, and withdrawal will allow the client to have a better view and able to deal with the situation better.  But that is a temporary exception rather than the norm.  This cannot be the common typical reaction.  It has to be used as a tactic, while as a strategy, you stay close to the issue and deal with it.

If the issue is a misunderstanding on behalf of the client, then you need to be a “broadcasting” station with propaganda helping the client understand what is really going on.  This has to be done not once, but on regular basis.  If the issue is there and you or your team did something wrong, facing to it and owning it will build you rapport with the client and give you better chances of resolving the issue.

So, either way, roll INTO the punch, not away from it.  The issue is there and will most probably stay there until you face it and deal with it.

Happy Project Managing!

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