12 Questions for Gaining Control of Your Risks

Are you a project manager who focuses on gaining control of your project risks?

How to Gain Control of Project Risks

Some project managers start their projects with a strong focus on risk management. However, somewhere along the way they lose steam. They increasingly spend more time dealing with issues and implementing workarounds. They are frustrated and filled with anxiety.

Other project managers start out strong. When problems occur, they turn to their risk response plan. They run toward their risk management tools and techniques to aid them. The result: these project managers spend less time responding to issues. Consequently, they know how to gain and maintain control of their project.

In my last article, we looked at What Everybody Should Know About Controlling Risks. Remember the definition for controlling risks?

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) defines Control Risks as “The process of implementing risk response plans, tracking identified risks, monitoring residual risks, identifying new risks, and evaluating risk process effectiveness throughout the project.”

When Do We Control Risks?

Controlling risks is an ongoing activity, not a one-time event. The frequency varies depending on the project. Some project managers review risks with their team in their weekly project meetings. Others who manage agile projects discuss risks in their daily standup meetings.

12 Questions for Gaining Control

Perhaps you struggle with how to practically control risks. It seems like a vague notion. Well, here are some questions that can help you and your team gain control.

  1. What new risks should be captured in the risk register?
  2. What risks should be closed?
  3. What has changed in the previously identified risks? Reassess the probability and impact of your risks.
  4. How effective are the current risk controls? If the risk controls are not effective, modify the controls for better results.
  5. Have project assumptions changed?
  6. What thresholds have been exceeded? If a threshold or trigger has been exceeded, what actions need to occur?
  7. What contingency or fallback plans should be executed?
  8. Are there common causes that are increasing multiple risks? One causal factor may increase the probability and/or impact of multiple risks. Attacking these causal factors can produce great results.
  9. Are the right risk owners assigned? If the risk owner is not performing their duties correctly, look for ways to motivate the risk owner or consider a change.
  10. Are workarounds increasing? Increasing manual workarounds is a sign that there has been inadequate risk identification and control.
  11. How are the reserves doing? Is it time to request additional reserves? Perhaps the team should consider ways to change facets of the project in order to stay within budget and schedule.
  12. What have we learned?
Bonus: Download the PDF version of these questions, suitable for printing and hanging near your workspace when you need to see it most.

Question: What other questions would you add to this list?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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