Categories: Risk Management
In my continuing series on commonly held but, in my opinion, highly suspect project management practices, I want to ask the question: Exactly what do the risk analysts do that improves a project's ability to come in on-time, on-budget?
Now, as the firestorm I've just ignited races to engulf me, let me be crystal clear about what I'm asserting. I am not saying that risk management is without value. What I am saying is, once the contingency budget and/or schedule have been baselined, the value of the information produced from risk-analysis techniques drops off dramatically.
U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower believed that once you're on the battlefield, all plans were out the window. And, while (most) projects don't approach the level of chaos and mayhem associated with a battlefield, I think his ideas are highly applicable in our works. That's what project managers do; they respond to the changes in circumstances, resources, demands, and hundreds of other parameters, every single working day.
The notion that project management decisions can be quantified and reduced to formulaic responses in most circumstances is absurd, and furthering that approach using excessive statistical jargon does not automatically make it legitimate.
As for the assertion that risk management includes an "upside risk" component--a.k.a. opportunity management--I would like to point to the Unabridged Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition. Its definition of "risk" reads, in part, "Hazard; danger; peril; exposure to loss, injury, disadvantage or destruction."
Indeed, nowhere in the definition will you find any reference to any possibility of a positive outcome or environ, much less opportunity. And yet, you see people make the comparison risk management equals opportunity management.
I know the risk management aficionados have had a lot of success re-defining the verbiage associated with their area of expertise in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) space, but isn't there another way of furthering risk management notions without pounding away at the lexicon?