Are the best project managers risk managers?
One of the best skills a project manager can have is the ability to tolerate and manage risk.
Risks in projects occur on a daily basis. There is a change of management on the user or IT side; a critical person stops; there are internal personnel problems; a major supplier or product develops unforeseen problems; a central subroutine called by applications fails unexpectedly. How do you recover from such conditions and keep a project on track?
First, let’s take a look at the recent track record of projects.
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in 2020, Standish Group reported: that “66% of technology projects (based on the analysis of 50,000 projects worldwide) end in partial or total failure”, and that “31% of US IT projects were completely canceled and 53% performance was so worrying that they were challenged .’
This is worrisome. It also highlights the need to manage project risks and tasks on a daily basis. What common risks do project managers face and how do they deal with them?
Manage general project risks?
Problems with suppliers
If you are running a project that relies on third-party software, vendor collaboration on the project is critical. Unfortunately, vendors don’t always provide the level of support you need when you need it. This can slow down project work.
One way to manage supplier risk is to redirect project work to other areas that are not supplier dependent. This way you can keep the project timeline intact.
If the project is so vendor-dependent that it grinds to a halt until the supplier can respond, the project manager should immediately notify senior management of the delay and why it occurred.
You would think this would be a natural impulse – but sometimes it isn’t. In one case, a project manager who was reluctant to inform management believed he could count on the supplier to get through and eventually lose his job. It is best to be candid about project delays and to communicate quickly with both management and stakeholders.
Underestimating the difficulty of a project
When project tasks and timelines are built, the project manager relies on area team leaders in different teams to define and estimate each task. As an initial hedge, these team leaders provide range estimates with both low and high timelines. Unfortunately, this does not prevent unexpected delays and deadlocks.
To manage these risks, project managers must plan to take the higher estimate of the time and add an additional 10% to that estimate for each task with a high degree of uncertainty. In some cases you can’t add estimates because there is a hard and non-negotiable deadline, but in many cases you can.
In very long and rigorous projects, a project manager should always consider the amount of stress placed on the project team and the possibility that a key contributor could leave or be unavailable.
One way to manage the risk of staff loss, illness and stress is to assess the bank strength of your project team before starting a project.
If your senior application developer has a capable backup who can intervene, you have good coverage. But if you only have one database person who can design the schemas you need for your project data, it might be wise to have a database consultant in the wings who can be called in if you lose your database person.
In short: stay calm and in control
Certainly if your project is in a difficult phase and employees experience a lot of stress, you as a project manager must remain calm, cool and controlled.
Staff look to the project manager for guidance, reassurance and direction. If you aren’t disturbed by stress, they will be too. That’s why leading by example is one of the best ways to manage project stress and minimize risk.