Systematic Risk Register

PMI NC Piedmont Triad Chapter, and Kim H. Pries

Experience suggests a significant source of project failures are due to insufficient risk management diligence. For example, I have rarely seen any significant time spent on contingency planning; for example, preparing for expected anomalies, preparing for unexpected but anticipatable anomalies, and quantification and contingency budget as a part of the project risk management. In many cases, a new product will launch with major materials shortages and problem-ridden or late software.

One approach we can take to help mitigate these nightmares is through the use of a document similar in concept to the failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) methodology. If we view the project timeline as a directed graph analogous to a production flow diagram, we can also visualize the sequence of the timeline as the beginning of an automotive or HACCP-style control plan. One of the tools used to reduce risk in the production process is the process FMEA, which matches the process defined in the process control plan step for step, often identifying multiple failure modes for each step. In this case, we apply this tool and technique in the service of the project.

What approach can help?
We recommend a modified version of the FMEA approach, tailored to the needs of project and program managers. We know from personal experience that forward thinking and treating potential failures …

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"My sole inspiration is a telephone call from a producer."

- Cole Porter

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