4 Tips for Developing a Risk Management Plan

Steven Covey introduced the concept of Quadrant II activities—working on things that are important but are not urgent. Planning is a powerful Quadrant II activity that can save you time and energy. Think about the future so you can make better decisions in the present. Let’s talk about how to plan your risk management.

two people developing a plan

First Things First

Some people think of risk management plans in the wrong way. Risk management plans are not a list of risks and how you plan to respond. That's your project risk register. Rather, this plan is your approach to risk management.

  • How do you plan to identify and evaluate risks?
  • How will you develop risk response plans?
  • When will you review risks and your risk management processes?
  • What are your risk thresholds?
  • How will you escalate issues?
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How to Create a Project Risk Management Plan

Most of your project problems can be avoided or greatly reduced through risk management. The simple act of identifying and discussing risks goes a long way towards reducing problems in your project. Let's look at how to develop a project risk management plan. As a bonus, I will provide a risk management plan example and a risk management plan template.

Here are some questions that we should answer in our plan:

  • How will you identify risks?
  • Who will be involved?
  • How often will you perform risk management activities?
  • What tools and techniques will you use?
  • Who will own the project risks

What is a Project Risk Management Plan?

The risk management plan is "a component of the project, program, or portfolio management plan that describes how risk management activities will be structured and performed" (PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition, Page 721).

How to Get Started

As you start, it's a good idea to see whether organizational risk management assets are available. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. If you have a PMO, see if they have a risk management plan template. If not, check with other project managers.

Warning - do not use the same plan for every project. The template simply provides a starting point. Work with your team to tailor your risk management plan.

The risk management plan should be commensurate with the size and complexity of your project. That is, for simple projects, your risk management plan may be a page or two. For large, complex projects, the plan may be much longer.

Talk with your team. How will you identify and manage risks? Much of the value of the plan is not in the physical document - it's in the discussion and interaction with your team.

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How to Actually Develop a Project Management Plan

Do you know the 5Ps? Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Why is it that some project managers put so little time in developing a project management plan?

Some project managers may not know what to include. I've developed this checklist to help you develop your project management plan including baselines, subsidiary plans, and ancillary plans.

Tailor the Project Management Plan

Every project is different. Select only the planning elements that are appropriate for the size and complexity of your projects. The project plan may be general or detailed depending on the needs of the project team.

Focus on keeping the plans simple and practical. Engage your team members in developing the plans. This will greatly improve the quality of the plans and the buy-in. Otherwise, people will ignore the plans.

First, let's look at three baselines that you may wish to include: the scope, schedule, and cost baselines.

Harry Hall, the Project Risk Coach

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How to Unite Enterprise and Project Risk Management

Many organizations have adopted enterprise risk management (ERM) as a way to make better decisions, get stronger operating results, and meet regulatory requirements. These same organizations may have program and project managers managing scores of projects. However, few organizations have yet to actually unite the enterprise and project risk management efforts.

picture-of-Harry-Hall

Consequently, efforts are disjointed, projects lack strategic alignment with the organizational objectives, and resources are not properly utilized. Unfortunately, these organizations are not realizing their full potential.

What is Enterprise Risk Management?

The Risk Management Society (RIMS) defines ERM as “a strategic business discipline that supports the achievement of an organization’s objectives by addressing the full spectrum of its risks and managing the combined impact of those risks as an interrelated risk portfolio.” Why is ERM important?Continue reading

How to Be a Project Risk Management Evangelist

The Project Management Institute says, "high-performing companies manage risk in conjunction with projects and programs far more often than low performers do." How can you help your company manage risks and become a high performer? Let's look at ways to become a project risk management evangelist.

individual speaking to a team

The lack of senior management support is one of the primary barriers to effective organizational risk management. Additionally, I believe it is also a major constraint to effective project risk management.


How can project sponsors and project managers influence senior leaders to adopt risk management and reduce the barrier to risk management? Allow me to share seven ways.


7 Ways to Be a Project Risk Management Evangelist

1

Identify Leaders and Decision Makers

Want to see your organization become a high-performer? It starts with your senior leaders adopting a risk management attitude. Who are the top leaders that you need to influence? Create a stakeholder engagement assessment matrix.

2

Educate Key Stakeholders

Next, educate your leaders. Help them understand how to use risk management to get better results.


Don't have access to the senior leaders? Who do you know that does? Who can you influence that might influence the senior leaders?


Another way to influence is from the bottom up, within your sphere of influence. Use risk management to deliver successful projects. People at higher levels will start to question how you are doing it?

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My Top 10 Project Risk Management Blog Posts of 2019

Are you a better project manager today than you were a year ago? I hope my blog has boosted your knowledge and application. In case you missed some of my blog posts, I'm sharing my most popular project risk management posts of 2019.

So, just how many of you came to the Project Risk Coach website in 2019? 

Year

Visitors

2019

220,856

2018

113,206

2017

57,560

2016

42,000

2015

33,000

One of my 2019 goals was to help 180,000 website visitors. Thanks to you, I had more than 220,000. Visitors spent an average of 4 minutes and 47 seconds per visit. 

Where were the visitors from? The top countries included:

  1. United States
  2. Australia
  3. India
  4. The United Kingdom
  5. Canada

Top 10 Project Risk Management Articles of 2019

You may have noticed that I wrote more about project risk management than ever with a sprinkling of project management articles. Risks derail our projects. My aim has been to make project risk management easy to understand and practical to apply, putting you in the driver's seat of your projects.

Here were the top blog posts:

  1. 7 Ways to Identify Risks
  2. Evaluating Risks Using Quantitative Risk Analysis
  3. 6 Tools and Techniques for Controlling Risks
  4. How to Actually Identify Project Risks
  5. How to Identify Scope Risks
  6. How to Develop a Quality Management Plan
  7. How to Develop a Human Resource Management Plan
  8. How to Actually Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis
  9. The What, Why, & How of Project Requirements
  10. 10 Ways to Improve Project Presentations

"Risks derail our projects. My aim has been to make project risk management easy to understand and practical to apply, putting you in the driver's seat of your projects."

- Harry Hall, PMP, PMI-RMP -

PMI Chapters

Thanks to the Palmetto PMI Chapter for allowing me to speak at their 2019 Palmetto Symposium. Additionally, thanks to the Columbus PMI Chapter for allowing me to facilitate the How to Categorize, Assess, & Prioritize Project Risks Workshop.

2020 Project Risk Coach Plans

In 2020,  I will be creating more online courses and YouTube videos with a focus on project risk management and helping individuals prepare for the PMI-RMP Exam.

I also plan to conduct more project risk management workshops for PMI Chapters in 2020. Additionally, I hope to speak at a few more symposiums and chapter meetings. Let me know if you are interested

I've recently started the PMI-RMP for U.S. Project Managers LinkedIn Group. This group is for project managers LIVING IN THE UNITED STATES who have obtained or seeking to obtain the PMI-RMP Credential. Additionally, you will learn to apply project risk management in a balanced and practical manner.

My primary audience includes project managers in the United States with a college education. Most are between the ages of 40 and 70 and most work in the financial industry.

Irrespective of where you live or what you do, I hope you will find the Project Risk Coach as a go-to resource for project risk management tips, tools, and techniques.

What is Project Risk?

If you say the word “risk” to ten people, each person may think of something different— insurance, threats, investments, bets, or potential loss. As we manage project teams, it's critical that you and your team members have a common understanding of what project risk means. Otherwise, people will be confused by your risk management efforts.

what is project risk?

It is no wonder that there is so much confusion about the meaning of risk. Many credible sources provide conflicting definitions. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines risk as “the possibility of loss or injury: peril.”

Risk management standards, guides, and methodologies define risk in many different ways. Some include the possibility of positive risks or opportunities; others do not.

Risk - an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives. —PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition

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The Relationship Between Project Risk Management and Project Management

Project management is "the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project objectives" (PMBOK®—6th Edition). So, how does project risk management fit in the world of project management?

project risk management image

Hand in Glove Relationship

Project risk management fits in project management like a hand in glove. Project managers can use it to achieve their project objectives and goals. How?

Good risk management always starts with clear project objectives and goals. That is to say, project managers who manage risks without project objectives as the basis are simply playing games. There is an appearance of risk management but these individuals are simply going through the motions.

Good risk management always starts with clear project objectives and goals. —Harry Hall

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10 Simple Ways to Improve Your Project Meetings

I often hear people say, “Our company has too many meetings. The meetings last too long and they are woefully mismanaged.” And yet, meetings can be an indispensable tool for accomplishing work.  Let’s look at 10 ways to improve project meetings and achieve greater results.

revitalize your project meetings

10 Project Meeting Boosters

1. Meet somewhere new. One simple but effective way to reinvigorate your meetings is to meet in a new location. What about meeting at an offsite location or meeting outside on a nice day? Variety is the spice of life.

2. Meet at a different time. You have a recurring meeting where you’ve been meeting from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. every Tuesday for the last year. How about moving the meeting to Tuesday morning from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m., schedules permitting, to leverage greater energy in the mornings.

3. Use a different facilitation technique. A bad habit is using the round-robin every meeting. You start with the person on your left and you rotate from one person to another for updates. Use a different technique such as a whiteboard for example. Ask for the most significant limiting factors and capture them on the whiteboard.

4. Rotate meeting roles. For meetings with ten or more people, I recommend that you assign meeting roles—facilitator, scribe, time-keeper, and gatekeeper, to name a few. In addition, consider rotating the roles allowing different people to lead in different capacities. This gives everyone a greater appreciation for each role.

5. Invite someone new to the meeting. Perhaps you and the team have been trying to resolve a problem and you’ve met three times. Feeling stagnant? Invite another subject matter expert to provide a different perspective?

6. Undertake a team-building exercise. Wise leaders know how and when to inject team-building exercises. Facilitate a problem-solving exercise, develop a work breakdown structure, or identify ways to improve project communication.

7. Develop or revive your ground rules. Perhaps your team has developed some bad meeting habits—getting off track, showing up late, or reading emails on their smartphones. Ask your team to identify ground rules for future meetings that can drive better performance.

8. Do more planning and problem-solving. One big meeting problem is a lack of engagement. Participants are passive—brains are turned off. Rather than using meetings to report status, use the time to plan, to solve problems, and to innovate.

9. Stand up or walk for a meeting. Many agile teams perform daily stand-up meetings, fifteen minutes in length, to discuss: What did you do yesterday? What will you do today? Are there any impediments in your way? Alternatively, try a walking meeting (notify everyone in advance) where you discuss these questions.

10. Monitor energy levels. I’m not a fan of all-day meetings, but sometimes, they are necessary. Recognize that energy levels will likely diminish in the afternoon. What can you do to improve energy throughout the day? Provide water (perhaps coffee) and healthy snacks. Take a periodic stretch break. Additionally, break up into groups to discuss a topic or problem—have someone from each group share their group’s thoughts. Keep things moving.

It’s Your Turn To Revitalize Your Project Meetings

Good leaders shape their team cultures. Think about your teams. What changes would you like to see in their attitudes and behaviors? Implement one or two of the ideas in this article. Evaluate whether the team is getting more done. Furthermore, never let your meetings stay in a rut. Periodically, try something new!

What are the Project Meeting Roles?

Project meetings can be maddening. Some people come unprepared. Others get off track. And how about those that constantly check email. Let's improve your meetings through project meeting roles.

project meeting

Team members leave meetings with no decisions, lacking direction, and not knowing what to expect next. Power-hungry individuals dominate the discussions. The meek say nothing.

Meetings can be an absolute waste of time and money.

How can we better manage our meetings and get results? Assign meeting roles that combat common meeting problems. 

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