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Managing Risk in Project Management (MoP™)

All projects come with an element of risk, that’s just a fact, but there are many ways in which great project managers are able to manage this risk, keeping it from derailing a project and spelling failure for them and their team. It doesn’t matter how confident the project team are when entering into their new venture, risks are seemingly always there, and are very hard to avoid, and it’s important for project managers to know how to avoid them, manage them and resolve any problems caused throughout the duration of their project.

The first responsibility of the project manager is to assess risks before starting, thus reducing the likelihood of running into issues at a later date and crafting plans around predicted problems that may come up. Accepting that this is going to be something that needs to be considered is important, as a project manager who proceeds without imagining risks is one who will have a more difficult time managing them later. Accepting things are going to happen is only the first stage, but it’s one of the most important parts of effective risk management that paves the way for everything else.

From here, the practice of risk management is an ongoing duty for project managers, with diligent attention paid allowing for project managers to monitor and assess risk as they proceed through the stages of the project. Resources are precious, of course, and this is why attempting to deal with every single minor problem is a bit of a fool’s errand. Project teams are advised, then, to accept the arrival of risks and have an effective risk management strategy in place to tackle them when they do.

Expert training for project managers is vital to mastering these skills, the Management of Portfolios (MoP™) guidance provides advice and examples of how to apply principles, practices and techniques which help to optimise an organisation’s investment in change alongside its business as usual (BAU) work. MoP™ helps organisations to answer a fundamental question: ‘Are we sure this investment is right for us and how will it contribute to our strategic objectives?’ Investment is the key word because portfolio management is about investing in the right change initiatives and implementing them correctly.

MoP™ achieves this by ensuring that:

  • The programmes and projects undertaken are prioritised in terms of their contribution to the organisation’s strategic objectives and overall level of risk
  • Programmes and projects are managed consistently to ensure efficient and effective delivery

Who’s it for?

This training and qualification is aimed at those involved in a range of formal and informal portfolio management roles encompassing investment decision-making, project and programme delivery, and benefits realisation. It is relevant to all those involved in the selection and delivery of business change initiatives including:

Members of Management Boards and Directors of Change

Senior Responsible Owners (SROs)

Portfolio, Programme, Project, Business Change and Benefits Managers

Business Case Writers

Project Appraisers, Business Process Owner

Bigger risks demand a more practical approach, of course, and this is where smart project managers begin planning around potential risks and problems as much as possible all derived from studying MoP™. If a particular risk has the potential to completely derail a project, for example, project managers must plan around this eventuality before beginning, thus avoiding it altogether. If an unfortunate clash in commitments can be seen, such as training scheduled in at a time when you know work will be heavy and deadlines looming, it’s important to adapt the schedule accordingly to avoid such conflicts.

But large risks can be made smaller, by limiting the impact of these risks. This is referred to as mitigation, and is probably the most commonly used risk management strategy for project managers. The big problems that need to be accounted for are made smaller and easier to fix through pre-emptive measures such as training for team members, and this can reduce the chance of problems being large enough to effect the overall health and progress of the larger project and what it is trying to achieve. This can sometimes also have the effect of eliminating the risk altogether, which is the absolute best result.

There is, surprisingly, such a thing as positive risk, which come in the form of risks related to desired results. Maybe you don’t have enough resources to account for massive success? In these circumstances, it’s important to maximise the impact of that risk, rather than diminish it, and have strategies in place to cater for the aftermath should it come. Risk management is all about assessment and action, with the latter only really required when the former has identified certain areas as high risk and in need of attention. When this has been done, it is the task of the project manager to simply monitor and control the rest.

Risk management is one of the most important tools in the project manager’s toolbox, and is something that can make or break a project as it moves forward. With training in disciplines such as MoP™ available from ILX, practitioners can learn all of the skills they need along with methodologies that can be applied to projects in a real business setting. Assessing and managing risks on a project can help to keep teams from facing insurmountable odds further down the line, and project managers who are able to properly identify and deal with risks is much more likely to guide their project to ultimate success.