Project Management

Risk Identification, Speed Dating Style

PMI Charleston, SC Chapter

Dan leads the Project Management Office of The Medical University of South Carolina's Office of the CIO. He also owns PM One, LLC (, a leading project management training company serving the Southeast USA. Dan is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), a Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS), and a HIMSS Fellow (FHIMSS).

Recently I was asked to facilitate a risk identification session for a small $1.5 million dollar project. Although the project budget was not huge, the implications to the patient, healthcare science and our organization were significant.

Normally we spend between two and four hours identifying and qualifying (probability and impact assessment) risks, with the time split fairly evenly between the two operations. Although we have conducted risk assessment sessions with as many as 50 people--running multiple risk matrices--we tend to try to work with groups of 12 to 16 in order to totally engage each person in attendance.

However, for this important project I was asked if we could just identify risks and do it in less than 45 minutes, including instructions and debriefing, and was told that we would have upward of 35 people in attendance. To make things more complicated, those attending would include a diverse group of department heads, physicians, nurses, data scientists/analytics staff, researchers, IT staff, the deputy CIO, the Chief Medical Information Officer and our vendor.

To those not familiar with working with teams that include clinical staff, they bring a wonderful flavor--and challenge--to any project team that also includes non-clinical staff. Clinicians simply have a different way of looking at and resolving challenges and issues. I believe it comes …

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"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened."

- Winston Churchill