Getting Risky with Project Phases

Barath is an independent consultant with proven leadership in delivering robust and effective PMOs in complex programs for large banks in the UK.

An essential part of managing projects successfully is an understanding of the key risks across the various project phases and a clear, deliberate strategy to pre-emptively manage them. It is quite rare to see projects where a forward-looking risk planning capability is set up in the early days of the project. Therefore, projects typically recognize the need for a cohesive risk-and-issues management capability (typically achieved through a PMO function) much later in the execution phase of the project—by which time a lot of early mistakes have already been embedded.

The initiation and planning phases present significant risks that can have wide-ranging impact on the success of projects. Managing these early-phase risks is akin to laying a solid foundation on which future project success can be built. The central theme of this article is to identify and create an awareness of major risks that can have a deleterious impact if not managed well—and propose some practical steps to manage them.

The Initiation Phase

1. Rapidly evolving scope: The initiation phase of the project can be quite chaotic with different and competing viewpoints on the overall scope. The project boundaries tend to evolve rapidly and ambiguously. The chief risk in these nascent days of the project is lack of clarity and vagueness in scope definition. Clear documentation and consensus on …

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