Should risk management be part of project management

07 May 2022

Should risk management be part of project management

This is my edited answer to a related question on Quora/

All of the material below is my own. If any part of it is quoted it should be referenced and acknowledged and I should be informed. This applies to all use professionally as well as in assignments.

Risk management became a recognised core part of project management many years ago; prior to that it was always part of it but not necessarily recognised as a list of risks and opportunities used in some form of matrix showing how the risk was assessed and managed.

Risk is part of everything everyone does, for example, spilling hot drinks near small children, crossing roads, and clicking on a link in an email when you should not.

I recall adding Risk Management to a project management module over 20 years ago and certainly included it as part of assignments before then, having also seen it as a core part of the PRINCE and later PRINCE2 methodologies.

I use the principle in all management, a question to ask of the whole stakeholder group: “What could possibly go wrong?”

I also like to address opportunities: “What could go better than expected?”

If the clients have not thought about both of these ‘What if…’” situations they need to at the earliest concept and feasibility stages and progressively throughout the project. A business case approach can start with the simple option of ‘do nothing’ and be compared with other options.

Many years ago before it became a subject as part of project management modules it was part of preparation for complicated projects. I recall demolishing an old bridge over an electrified railway while it was closed for a weekend. Any delay would cost a lot; failure to demolish the bridge or any parts falling on the line would cost a lot; so the top risk - not demolishing the bridge - had the potential for costing a lot. And if demolition took too long and the line could not be opened after the agreed closure period there would be consequences for passengers, freight and these would cost a lot.

We decided to demolish the bridge, managing the risks with the main and other stakeholders, the project completing in about 40 hours ‘rail possession time’ finishing ahead of the 48 hours available.

So risk management is essential to all of business, all projects.

A one day session on risk managemtn would provide long term benefits to your organisation. An independent perspective provides extra views and facilitates more ideas. For your session on 'Risk management and what could possibly go wrong' please contact me.

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