Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Writing risk records, part of Project Management Foundations: Risk.
A large number of risk management plans get thrown in the trash with exasperated project managers and sponsors screaming things like "Depite our work, this risk plan is useless!" The difference between risk plans that work, and those that do not, usually comes down to one simple element: the way risks are written. Do you know how to write appropriate risk records? I want to share with you the proper way to prepare a risk record.
As a means of discussing the proper way to draft your risk records, i'll share a story where risk records were written inadequately. An airport company has identified a risk that their fuel trucks may be unable to make it out onto the tarmac to refuel the airplanes in a timely manner. This will cause the planes to be delayed. No specific cause for the delay in the fuel truck arrival is discussed. So the project manager and sponsor assume that the risk revolves around the fuel trucks having a mechanical failure.
As a result, they use a single risk record, and jump to a single risk mitigation action. They decide to have more fuel trucks available, so that regardless of a mechanical failure in one truck, they'll always a truck ready to refuel the aircraft. This sounds like a reasonable risk mitigation strategy. However, during the next month, the fuel truck drivers go out on strike. The airport management company could have all the fuel trucks in the world, and none of them would be able to show up.
There's simply no one to drive the trucks. What went wrong here? The team only considered one cause for the risk ocurring, and their risk records were inadequate to service other possibilities. So you don't end up like our unfortunate airport managers, let's take a look at the formula for writing effective risk records. First, adopt this simple structure. A properly structured risk record is easy as pie.
Probability of impact as the result of an event. Add the cause of the event, and you have a perfectly useful risk record. Back to our airport example. The appropriate risk record would be there is an x percent chance that the fuel truck drivers will go on strike causing the fuel trucks to be delayed in refueling the aircraft. This will increase costs by y dollars per flight due to delays.
Second tip for writing risk records, don't hesitate to have multiple risk records for the same risk. In each record, you outline different causes because the mitigation action will be different. In my airport management example, writing multiple risk records to address different causes of the fuel truck delay risk event would have been a valuable thing to do. Another risk record, similar to the one I just shared with you, could be written to address the situation they did think of when a fuel truck mechanical failure occurs.
Last, my third tip for writing risk records. Don't write the records and leave them to collect dust. You need to be continually going back to your records to see how the risks are tracking. As the project progresses, your risk may change. Specifically with probability of occurring, and potential impacts. You may also surface other potential causes for the risk to occur. Keep your risks current, and you will always be on top of things that could derail your project.
You might think it seems a bit redundant to write multiple records for risks with the same impact, and keep reviewing them all the time. However, you will want to understand when you need to act to address risks and ensure those actions will be useful. Starting with specific and structured risk records makes your risks relatively easy to review and update. With well crafted risk records, your risk management plan can be pragmatic, inefficient, and a well crafted risk plan proactively addresses the problems the can plague your project which can be the difference between successful delivery of project outcomes, or a project that gets cancelled before it delivers any value.
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- Incorporating risk management into your project
- Identifying risk
- Categorizing risks
- Performing qualitative and quantitative risk analysis
- Building a risk-response plan
- Deciding when to execute a risk-response plan<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.