Planning for the Little Risks

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Categories: Risk Management

How many times has this happened on your team? An engineer switches off his machine on a Friday evening, enjoys his weekend, only to come back on Monday to find out the computer won't start or connect to the network. It's a very common problem--and for teams like mine that are close to 50 people--it occurs nearly once a month.

It takes the IT team a day to get everything working again, which may push back an already delayed schedule. How do you prepare the mitigation/contingency plan for this kind of risk? It may seem minor, but how many of us even identify these types of little things as risks? We should.
In this instance, I suggest the project manager keep a backup machine with the required software and hardware ready for the team. I know it will cost more money, but if you are able to save a day's effort every month then it would be justifiable.

How do you prepare for these seemingly "little risks"?

See the article, Plan for Everyday Risks, Brace for the Ordinary, by Carl Pritchard, PMI-RMP, PMP, published in April in PMI Community Post.
Posted by sanjay saini on: May 06, 2009 11:08 AM | Permalink

Comments (7)

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Glen B. Alleman
Sanjay, You've made a very common mistake in the IT world. What you describe is NOT a risk it is an Issue. Please see Chapter 11 of PMBOK for the definition of Risk. "Risk is an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has an effect on at least one project objective." The situation you described has already occured. If you changed to term "risk" to "issue," you'd have it Right.

J.-Martin Hohberg
Dear Sanjay If it were to be a temporary electricity supply problem which causes your server to break down once in a while, a battery buffer might help. In our consulting company, more and more engineers have laptops with local versions of the most needed software, and they connect to the server data storage only in the evening to secure the back-up. However, this may pose other forms of risks, i.e. loosing data or the entire laptop (e.g. in the train) with sensitive data... Best regards, Martin RiskSIG Liaison Switzerland

Gautam Gangoli
It is very important for the Project Manager and team members to factor in the buffers in terms of time, resources, etc so that unexpected surprises are taken care of smoothly. How many times we have see the projector, video conference equipment not working when client is present and causes discomfort to all even to the client himself!! Better option to have a mock session before-hand so that these situations do not arise.

Sanjay Saini
Hi Glen The situation has occured in my project but not in other's so it may occur in their projects too. Even if it is an issue still we need to plan for it. Regards Sanjay

Pete Wright
Sorry Glen but I disagree.

What Sanjay has detailed is a lesson learned and the question do you manage these risk occurring. You do not know if the machine (either PC, project, etc.) will be working on the day, you assume it will as it was working last time you saw it.

It IS therefore a risk as you are uncertain if the box will be working on the Monday. You assume it is and then when you arrive you realize the risk due to your assumption.

In response to Sanjay's post, in my experience most of the time these occurrences happen they are not on the critical path and are subsumed by contingency/prior planning (print outs for the meeting—just in case).

Therefore most are not tracked and are managed reactively.

Jim Neville
I call this principle, "living with a margin." In other words, more of the essential ingredients for the project/meeting or other activity to be a success.

I agree with Pete that such occurrences can happen or not but they do impact the actual project. Mostly these are not on the critical path but if they are on a critical path, they can alter the project schedule. So, this must be considered a genuine risk.

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