Author : DAOUDI Samir | Context : MSc Software Engineering – IT Project Management

Projects are being more and more important within a company. Every change, requirement, idea or any process that might have impact on the business or any aspect of the company is conducted as a project. The role of Project Manager and the PMO are one of the most important in a company. We can see in the IT staff salary that the top paid positions are those in relation to the management of projects. The importance of this role might have significant impacts as the high pressure that the project managers are daily exposed to (Cooper.et.al, 2005); They have pressure from the stakeholders for deliveries, from the management for time and budget respect and from the different team about the different conflicts and technical issues they face…etc.

Whatever the project type is? The management of projects follows mainly the same processes that are closely related. Starting from the project scope definition (which is considered by many project managers as the most important phase) during which, the project requirements and impact are analyzed, the outputs should be clearly defined. Than the estimations phase, in which the project manager tries to estimate the human and non-human requirements in addition to the time schedules estimations. However, the project estimation is not an exact science that allows the project managers to exactly predict the costs, requirements or schedules for a project. This is why all these aspects of the project are called estimation or predictions; and even with very experienced project managers, it can be sometimes very difficult to approach the exact values of these aspects (Well-Stam.et.al, 2003).

We have seen in the last weeks that many conflicts could appear around the project in case of wrong and unreal estimation of time schedules or budgets. This conflicts are the 1st reasons of project failing and should be seriously considered in order to avoid such ends. Instead of focusing in project conflicts’ resolution, why not considering the risks management that allows avoiding such conflicts or at least minimizing their impact.

What is project risks management? The project risks management is a complex process that tries to determine the possible risks that might affect the project. Before discussing how the risks management can be conducted, we should define what is a risk?

Chapman & Ward defined a risk is any unexpected or unattended situation that the project managers or the team members have not predicted and which can change the normal flow of the project. This is the simplest definition we can have of a risk (Chapman & Ward, 2003). Now, in risks management two kinds of risks should be considered differently
– The predictable risks: this set of risks can be easily estimated, and in general it is the result of experience acquired from previous projects for example:

– Delays in the delivery: e.g. during holidays period as Christmas, we might face some perturbations in the delivery of any ordered hardware.
– Sickness and team member’s off period: project managers might easily anticipate such situations, which can be frequent as the developers or team members might be sick or absent for holidays.

– The unpredictable risks: these are the most difficult and the risky ones. It is hard to anticipate them or estimate their impact or probability. However, they might have heavy consequences of the whole project as the natural catastrophes for example.

The project manager can estimate some risks based on his/her experience, but in general a set of questions are asked during meeting and during the whole project to determine the possible risks, their probabilities and impacts. Here is a list of questions used:

1. Is the project scope clear?
2. Did the end user sign-off and fully agree with the project scope especially the outputs?
3. Do the team members master the technologies being used?
4. Are there any possible delays (holidays or any events) for the hardware delivery?
5. Do the team members require any additional training?
6. Do we have enough redundant team members that might cover and continue the work previously done by any other colleague?
7. Can the stakeholders and end users attend the different meetings?

Such questions can help the project manager in the estimation of risks and their impacts. However, the best skill is the experience, as PM face in each project specific situations and during the years they can forge a strong risks management skills.

References

– Chris Chapman, Stephen Ward (2003). Project Risk Management: Processes, Techniques and Insights. ISBN: 0-470-85355-7.

– Daniëlla van Well-Stam, Fianne Lindenaar, Suzanne Van Kinderen (2003). Project Risk Management: An Essential Tool For Managing And Controlling Projects. ISBN: 0-7494-4275-1.

– Dale F. Cooper, Stephen Grey, Geoffrey Raymond, Phil Walker (2005). Project Risk Management Guidelines: Managing Risk in Large Projects and complexe procurements. ISBN: 0-470-02281-7.

Originally posted 2013-10-06 18:03:33.

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