Project Management

The High Risk Project

From the Project Management in Real Life Blog
Sharing my Project Management adventures and some tips. I like to keep my articles brief and to the point. Project Management is an Art, Science, and Discipline. Just keep it simple and have fun!

About this Blog


Recent Posts

Job Shadowing the Daily Work Routine

Mother Hen Leadership

Taming the Wild Wild West (Project Management) environment

The Hybrid-Plus called The LAW

Risk Register (Project Team Members)

Project Management has been around from the beginning of time. Just think about the wonders of the world that have been built. A form of project management had to have been used to accomplish such feats. The Romans and Egyptians are examples of accomplishing amazing construction projects with only primitive tools and slaves. The use of slaves must have been ingrained into project teams through the years to joke about Project Managers being slave drivers.     

Fast forward to modern times. Project Management is a critical discipline to ensure successful delivery of projects on time within the budget. Projects are tied to a budget with a reasonable variance for the bumps in the road that could pop up. The bumps in the road are the project risks that should be identified and monitored all the time. The entire team needs to be onboard with open communication to immediately report any risks that are starting to materialize. If you stick your head in the sand and hope that the risk goes away without any mitigation, good luck, get your resume ready. 

The person overseeing the entire high profile project needs to be transparent, accessible and have integrity. Knowing when to say timeout takes guts when it's starting to look bad. Slapping on workarounds for deficiencies that eventually catch up with the project is just pure stupidity. Money and time are just wasted and your competency will questioned. 

Having an unrealistic attitude that we have put in many hours and spent big money on the project already so it's unstoppable because we are at the point of no return will not work in your favor. Any failing project can be shutdown to repurpose it or dismantle it to stop further financial loss. Repurpose or dismantling will come at a cost, but if you continue on with a poorly planned project that should have never gotten a green light to proceed, you better have deep pockets to keep funding that White Elephant. A lot of people will be outraged and at the same time relieved that bleeding will be stopped. 

It's all about gathering the required cost and time to complete a project on-time within the budget. Not an easy job for some projects, but it needs to be done properly without cutting corners to get an approval. That's the expectation you expect when you entrust a project team to embark on a major high risk project that is very expensive. 


(Note - this article was originally written by Drake Settsu and published on in May 2016)

Posted on: April 15, 2018 06:55 AM | Permalink

Comments (11)

Please login or join to subscribe to this item
Is that bridge stable? ;-) Thanks for some good insights Drake.

Thanks Sante!

I was just using a stock photo. I'm sure it's stable.

Thanks for sharing, Drake - that bridge looks a lot more robust than the Gardiner Expressway in downtown Toronto which has the unfortunate habit of shedding chunks of concrete fairly regularly!

When working on projects where the outcomes aren't as solid and (hopefully) permanent as bridge building, PMs still need to ask themselves are they just trying to get to done, or are they trying to deliver something which a year down the line will still be considered a success.


Thanks Kiron!

This post was inspired from a big rail project going on in Hawaii. The contractor has so many issues and the cost keeps going up with the taxpayers on the hook.

You bring up a good point Kiron - on just getting it done or delivering something that will be a success.

The way I see it, it's all about accountability. Contractors need to be held accountable for their estimates and quality of work. The PM's in charge need to monitor the deliverables better so they can call a timeout when they see key milestones being missed. The budget is another red flag if costs keep going up even if milestones are being achieved a timeout is needed. Big projects require transparency to promote better accountability.

A nice read, Drake.

Just one observation on something (which makes ancient construction projects more impressive): There is strong evidence to suggest that the pyramids were not built by slaves but by paid labour. This brings cost management into the agenda for the project manager who oversaw the construction of these behemoths.

The sunk cost fallacy is something which has real impact when it comes to deciding which organisation bears that cost. Is it the organisation that will benefit from the outcome of the project? Or the performing organisation? How will this cost be allocated if the project is shelved?

Most organisations do not want to get to a stage where it becomes necessary to ask this above question. Am not saying this is the right approach - but it can be understood why organisations try workarounds to power through to the end of the project.

Good insights, Drake and thanks for sharing.

Thanks Karan and Anish!

Karan, very interesting that there is evidence that the pyramids were built from paid labor.

Regarding the sunk cost of a project. No one would want to take the hit to pull the plug so the White Elephant project continues till it finally implodes and then everyone begins to point fingers at each other and it gets ugly.

Thanks, Drake. Appreciate your write-up and insights.

Thanks Andrew!

Thanks Eduin!

Please Login/Register to leave a comment.


"Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true."

- Francis Bacon