12 Questions for Monitoring Project Risks


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Some project managers start their projects with a strong focus on risk management. However, somewhere along the way, they lose steam. They spend more time dealing with issues and implementing workarounds. In this article, I am providing questions that can help you in monitoring project risks and, as a result, achieve better results.

Other project managers start out strong and stick with their risk management. When problems occur, they turn to their risk response plans. They run toward their risk management tools and techniques to aid them. Consequently, these project managers spend less time responding to issues.

"The Monitor Risk process enables the portfolio, program, or project management team to reevaluate the status of previously identified risks; to identify emergent, secondary, and residual risks; and to determine the effectiveness of the risk management processes." –The Standard for Risk Management in Portfolios, Programs, and Projects

When Should We Monitor Project Risks?

Monitoring risks is an ongoing activity, not a one-time event. The frequency depends on the project. Some project managers review risks with their team in their weekly project meetings, while others who manage agile projects discuss risks and obstacles in their daily standup meetings.

12 Questions for Monitoring Project Risks

Perhaps you struggle with monitoring risks. It seems like a vague concept. Hence, here is a checklist that can help you and your team on the right track.

  1. What new risks should be captured in the risk register?
  2. Are there risks that 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 response plans and actions? If the risk plans are not effective, modify them 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. Therefore, you can increase your leverage by responding to these causal factors.
  9. Have you assigned the right risk owners? 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? If your manual workarounds are increasing, this is a sign of inadequate risk identification and responses earlier in the project.
  11. How are the contingency and management 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?

It's Your Turn

Let's put your projects and programs in a better position, one where we are actually monitoring our risks. Use this checklist to review previously identified risks, identify new risks, and examine the effectiveness of your risk management processes.

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