Do Not Pass Go Before Risk Analysis

Dan Patterson

Dan is a globally recognized project analytics thought leader and software entrepreneur. With 20 years of experience and multiple highly successful Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software companies under his belt, Dan was the founder of Acumen (now part of Deltek) and is the inventor of Acumen Fuse, 360 and Acumen Risk.

Project risk analysis is about more than determining the probability of finishing on time and on budget. It should also be used to decide whether a project is a viable “go” in the first place. The more diligence we apply in this initiation or pre-planning stage will pave the way for less risky projects during execution.

Project risk analysis is prevalent during the planning phase of major projects — prevalent, that is, for determining the probability of finishing on time and on budget. Risk tools help provide the likes of risk-adjusted completion dates and key risk drivers — all very useful. But what about the most important decision to consider about any project: whether or not to start it in the first place? Project risk analysis should have an equally valuable place in the early pre-planning, initiating or concept select phase.

All projects can be broken down into phases. An example is initiating; planning; execution; closeout. A project should be viewed as the expenditure of time and money in order to build and subsequently deliver a product or service. Well before we get to the “how are we going to build it” phase (i.e. planning), we first establish the feasibility of the project. Often a project can be satisfied using alternate construction techniques (e.g. modular versus stick build) or even alternate project candidates (new build versus …

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