Join Chris Croft for an in-depth discussion in this video Avoiding and minimizing the effects of mistakes, part of Project Management: Solving Common Project Problems.
- Now we're talking about avoiding problems on this course. And if you think about it, probably 99% of problems have happened before. They may not have happened to you, so you may not be aware of these problems, but they will have happened to somebody on a similar project before. If you take, for example, your wedding. For you, it's a one-off event. It's quite unpredictable. But, if you look back through the weddings of history, every single thing that could go wrong will have happened. So, tripping over and falling face first into the cake, ex-boyfriends turning up, all those things have happened.
So, ideally, you would have a risk plan at the start of your project that covers everything that might happen. And then how you're gonna make it less likely to happen and what are you gonna do if it does happen. A real life example that happened recently was the new Terminal Five at London Heathrow. And if you look at the opening of new airports, the baggage handling is always a problem. And if they had looked at previous airports, they could have predicted that. But instead, 23,000 bags were lost in the first five days.
And, presumably, the risk plan wasn't good enough for that. And that's amazing when you think that the information is out there. So, for your project, it's very important to do a bit of research. Find out what happened with previous projects. And you can get this from project reviews. And work out your risk plan. So to do this, you got a list of everything that might go wrong. And then you rate those how likely are they to happen, how serious will they be if they do happen. And you can multiply both of those numbers to get a "Should I worry about it?" factor. Then, if the factor is reasonably high, usually we rate both numbers out of five, multiply them together, and if it's in double figures, then we need to have a mitigation plan.
And the mitigation plan will be either to make the risk less likely to happen or to make it less serious if it does happen. And what we really want to know is what are the rating factors after we've done the mitigation plan. So if you take the example of, let's say, fire happening in this building. It's pretty unlikely because we already have mitigation plans. We've already got ways to make it less likely to happen like building materials, and things. And then we've also got plans to make it less serious if it does happen with fire escapes and sprinklers and things.
So overall, we probably don't need to worry much about fire because that number has been brought down to well below double figures. So that's what should be in your risk plan. What are the risks, how likely and serious, what are the plans to reduce them, and then what are the scores after we've made those plans. And a final thought about risk plans is you should keep it up-to-date as you go through your project because new risks may transpire as your project unfolds. And some risks go away. You know, once we've eaten the cake, then the risk of falling into it has now gone.
We don't need to worry about that. But perhaps other risks are coming over the horizon. So, you keep an updated risk plan as you go along. So, I'd like you to think about the project that you're running at the moment. Just think, do you have a risk plan, have you actually put numbers to the risks, and is it up-to-date at the moment?
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