Project Management

3 Ways Risk Management Methods Can Be Misleading…and How to Fix It!

Walid is an experienced Project and Program Manager with demonstrated expertise in decision science and software development.

To maximize the chances of success of any endeavor, it’s critical to properly identify and prioritize the risks to focus your energy and your attention on treating those most important. In this article, I will share with you three common mistakes that can make your risk management effort completely useless, if not counterproductive.

First of all, let’s recall some definitions. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) guide describes risk as an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on a project’s objective.

So, to properly manage the risks you have identified in your project, you need to evaluate their probability and their impact. Most risk management methods rely on simple scales to assess both. For example, the PMBOK® Guide recommends using definition tables (see below) to classify the probabilities and impacts in a well-defined scale ranging from “very high” to “very low”:

PMBOK® Guide—Sixth Edition (2017) — Project Management Institute, Table 11–1, Page 407

Error #1: Re-use existing scale definitions
In many situations, the scale definitions are standardized and provided by your organization. You also may be tempted to re-use scale definitions from a previous project.

To illustrate how dangerous such practices can be, let&…

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