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Identifying risks

From: Managing Small Projects

Video: Identifying risks

It's important to identify upfront what might go wrong in a project, so you can plan ahead and prevent a lot of the problems that you might run into. Many people think of risks as negative events that might harm a project like a delayed shipment, but risks really represent uncertainty. Risks are events that may or may not occur. One risk for the relocation project is that materials may arrive damaged. Early on, take some time to identify risks that could affect the project so the customer can decide whether it makes sense to do the project at all.

Identifying risks

It's important to identify upfront what might go wrong in a project, so you can plan ahead and prevent a lot of the problems that you might run into. Many people think of risks as negative events that might harm a project like a delayed shipment, but risks really represent uncertainty. Risks are events that may or may not occur. One risk for the relocation project is that materials may arrive damaged. Early on, take some time to identify risks that could affect the project so the customer can decide whether it makes sense to do the project at all.

For small project, make a rough estimate of the likelihood that the risk will occur and the impact it would have, if it does. For example with the relocation project, using a construction delay is very likely and can have a large impact if the delay pushes the finished data out. Since this risk is likely and would have a large impact, you would plan ahead for how you would handle that risk if it occurred. It's easier to identify risks that even countered before.

In the risk management world, these are called known unknowns, canceled flights, lost shipments, working with new people or equipment malfunctions for example. Technology seems to act up just when you need it. In addition, new technology might not be ready in time, work the way you want or it costs more than you planned. Geographically dispersed team members or new people can increase risk. Time zones and travel can result in delays.

Language and cultural differences can lead to miscommunication and remote teams might have trouble building effective working relationships. Limited options, like having only one supplier, can increase risk because you don't have alternatives that something goes wrong. Work with everyone on your team to identify risks. If you have colleagues who've worked on similar projects, ask them what risks they identified or experienced. As you identify risks, add them to a list.

During planning, you will use this spreadsheet to develop a plan for managing the risks which we'll go over in more detail later. Risks are one thing that can cause problems and assumptions are another. We'll talk about assumptions next.

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Managing Small Projects

38 video lessons · 16613 viewers

Bonnie Biafore
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