4 Best Planning Practices to Minimize Risks and Increase Project Success
Risk planning is often seen as a tedious activity and most people hate to spend time on it. Nevertheless, it should be considered very carefully, and you will find that it’s easier to act now instead of asking for forgiveness later.
Risk planning is similar to life insurance. Usually, you don’t get it on time and when you’ll decide to have it, it becomes too expensive to have or you really don’t need it anymore… It is true that it’s almost impossible to avoid all issues and risks, but it is possible to practice wise risk management to either avoid most risks or be prepared to mitigate those risks that cannot be avoided no matter what.
You can consider some simple steps explained below – these are the best risk management practices to engage in during the early phases of your project that can largely increase your project’s chances for success and minimize risks.
1. Put a proper effort into risk planning
You should ensure that you have put a proper risk planning effort into the project schedule. Planning none or too little is a path to disaster. If you plan too much time in your project management schedule, you may waste valuable financial assets before you even get started on risks. You should find a good balance – it is your first responsibility as the project manager to suggest and then jointly yours and the customer’s responsibility to agree upon risk planning based on the type of project and its needs.
2. Involve the client in risk identification
You should not focus only on identifying potential risks with your team. It is essential because you and your team are likely to have the most knowledge of the proposed solution and the issues that may be encountered, but it will only give you half of the picture. There are risks on the client’s side as well – risks with their end users, their environment, their vendors, their infrastructure, and their decision-making process. The client is a key player in the risk identification process.
3. Plan to avoid and mitigate risks
It is always recommended to avoid what can be avoided. On a critical project, you should plan for avoiding risks and spending money and time fixing the mess that a realized risk has caused. But if a risk cannot be avoided, then having a plan to mitigate the risk is the next best option. Keeping the impact to a minimum on the overall project progress, timeline, and budget is always the key to the risk planning process.
4. Check the risk status at least weekly
Remember that you’re never done with risk management. It should be a weekly effort, if not a daily one. The most attentive thing you can do for your project is to keep it in front of the team and customer on a weekly basis. Review the potential risks every week as part of your status meeting agenda. Use your project management software to incorporate your risk planning into the project schedule and keep it up to date every week so everyone understands the impacts involved. Awareness of the risk is half the battle.
You can never eliminate all risks and you will possibly never discover every potential risk during your risk management planning. You should spend a lot of time on risk management to intercept the possible risk occurrence. You and your client will have to determine the cost adjustments of how much risk planning you do. Also, planning for the relevant amount of time ahead (on risk management activities) in your project management software schedule will certainly help you plan for the show stoppers – the issues that come out of the big risks on the project. You should avoid what can be avoided as this will probably save the most time and money in the long run. And then you can mitigate those that can’t be avoided.