reating a Risk Management Plan: Deciding What You Need Before Mitigating Risk

Before performing the steps of risk management, increase your chances of success by first planning, which amounts to taking some time to decide and define what you need.

What Tools Will You Use in Managing Risk?

Tools are such things as forms, policies, procedures and software you will use to implement and perform risk management. If your company has a Project Management Office or even a Risk Management Department, you may have access to ready-made tools. If not, decide what you need and what the project needs in regards to tools. Are you new to risk management? Maybe you just need a basic procedure and a few basic forms to get you started. See Rita Mulcahy’s book, Risk Management: Tricks of the Trade for Project Managers for examples of steps, strategies and forms (RMC Publications, Inc).

Who Will be Involved?

Who can help identify bad things and good things that might occur on your project? They are the individuals you want to involve. Mostly they will help during the period when you are identifying the bad and good things that might happen (the threats and opportunities) but they may also help during the period when someone needs to take action because the bad or good thing that you earlier said might happen does in fact happen. If you’re not sure who these people are, typically they are experts on the subject of your project; project team members; end-users; customers. To come up with others, ask yourself, “Who cares about the outcome of this project?” Those people are stakeholders, and they can help identify risk.

How Can You Ensure Participation?

To get people to agree to be involved in your risk management effort, you will need to first get them to agree what you are doing is a good idea. One way to do this is gather those you want to involve and bring in some examples where bad things happened on a project (or good things) and how that affected the project. Giving real-life examples usually convinces people performing risk management is the right thing to do.

What Will Those Involved Do?

Once individuals have agreed risk management is the right thing to do, tell them the role you’d like them to play and how much time it will take. You can estimate this by determining roles and responsibilities of those participating in the risk mitigation effort. Examples of a few roles are Project Manager, Stakeholders and Team Members. What will individuals in those roles do? When will they be expected to do it? How much time will it take? You can create a simple, four-column chart with these headings and fill in the information (i.e., Role, What [Responsibility], When and Task Duration). It is fine to estimate.

How Will You Tailor Risk Management Activities to the Needs of Your Project?

First, ask yourself some questions about your project and your company: What is the priority of the project? Are there certain negative events that your company simply will not tolerate occurring? If the answer to the first question is “low,” then you may decide the time and effort you put toward risk management on this project will be limited. If you come up with several things in answer to the second question, you’ve just identified some top risks that should occupy your risk mitigation efforts once you begin that phase of risk management.

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