Project Management

Risk & Reward

I'm a risk enthusiast who likes to discuss techniques, tools and models—and use risk as a practical means to make better decisions in project environments. Join me on the ride!

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The Risk of Changing in Risk Management

(mis)Understanding Contingency

Monty Hall for Projects: To Switch or Not to Switch?

10 Wishes for your Project Risk Management adventures in 2019!

The Curse of the Moving Mountain

10 Wishes for your Project Risk Management adventures in 2019!

Hello, and happy new year, everybody! It’s time for new beginnings and, of course, wishes! I made a list for 2019, with what I wish for you this year, regarding project risk management:

  1. Communicate through risk: It is a great way to bridge gaps in communication and to expose points where people do not see eye to eye. To really understand a project in a glance, look at the project charter, the WBS and the risk register. It goes a long way and tell you a lot!
  2. Stablish a common ground: Adding on to the first item on the list, risk analysis can be used to bring people with different, sometimes even opposite views, although interested in the success of the project, to the same page. If you have something you want to discuss but you don’t know how to address, the risk register may help you.
  3. Question the deterministic: It is a nice idea to come back from the results of your analyses and change the plan. How feasible is it? It should be the P50, or the average, or some other value depending on your appetite for risk.
  4. Understand the challenges ahead: What are the roadblocks on your path? Are there any ladders or only snakes on the path? What is urgent? What is important? Use your register to respond, be proactive!
  5. Plan in advance: Don’t wait until the last minute to plan your responses. Do it as soon as possible, get people involved, make sure the risk drum beats strong so everybody can hear.
  6. Take action, make a move, get going: Do a workshop, make communication plans inside, get people interested on the results! The success of the project will keep everyone in the company employed for more time, or enhance their perceived skills by having participated in a successful project!
  7. Learning device: Incorporate risks in your project records. Make sure people will learn to plan better tomorrow based on what you are experiencing today!
  8. In plain sight: Exchange information, talk, have meetings, don’t be afraid to let the elephant inside the room. It is way better than hiding it until it is bigger than the room you are keeping him in.
  9. Risk and change, hand in hand: Change management can be directed by risks, as well as what the market point in your direction. Make sure you are monitoring progress and updating as frequently as possible, and make all these points connect.
  10. Expect the unexpected: No matter how good you are at mapping risks, something will stay out. You cannot be all that good and remember everything. But you can (you must!) keep track of issues and deviations along the way and make sure they happen only once for you. As they say, fool me once…

I hope you had an amazing year in 2018 and I look forward to having an even richer experience in 2019! I’ve learned a lot, and that is one of the great things of being alive and sharing this sense of community with all of you. Thank you all so much! Have a wonderful 2019!

Posted on: January 02, 2019 09:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

Preparing for a Schedule Risk Analysis

Recently I posted a poll right here in (here) concerning how you prepare a schedule to undertake a schedule risks analysis.

My idea was to understand how you out there see the question of getting a schedule ready for the simulation exercise. I gave you five possible answers:

  • No preparation needed, I just use my regular schedule as is (20 votes)
  • I try to reduce the number of tasks (9 votes)
  • I check the logic links and make sure all tasks are connected (61 votes)
  • I reduce tasks AND check the links (24 votes)
  • I refer to classic audit schemes, like the 14-point assessment (25 votes)

 My answer was number four, “I reduce tasks AND check the links. 17% of the respondents (139 in total) were with me on this. Now let me explain why.

In my case, I usually start with the schedule we use to monitor the progress. It tends to be quite detailed, and have a lot of information that we use to control progress, like issuing reports, preparing for meetings, doing governance, etc. All this tasks go away. Some procurement packages, for instance, have fourty steps and others have ten. I try to harmonize this, so the tasks have some similarity. This reduces a lot of work.

And of course I check the links between tasks, which is a simulation killer, one of the favorite GIGO drivers and a strong sponsor to terrible decision making. With this done, I move on to doing stress analysis and other tests to see which tasks are worthy to model with a distribution. Going further forward, I start consulting experts and doing data crunching to know how exactly I am going to model that. At last, but not surely least, I add events and their mitigation. You can check my series of articles on Qualitative and Quantitative Risk Analyses Integration, starting with this one.

Moving back to our poll, I always thought my answer would win by a landslide, but I understand all the other answers and I will develop a rationale for them, if you allow me:

  • No preparation needed, I just use my regular schedule as is (20 votes, or 14%) – Maybe you have a schedule which is already lean and you the tasks are really balanced. And it is already completely linked. I get that.
  • I try to reduce the number of tasks (9 votes, or 6%) – Reducing the number of tasks is coherent with some best practices in Schedule Risk Analysis. Hulett (2006) is one of the many who advise having a smaller schedule.
  • I check the logic links and make sure all tasks are connected (61 votes, or 44%) – This goes without saying. No logic links means you do not have a schedule. You are not ready to open the door. Go back and get that key!
  • I reduce tasks AND check the links (24 votes, or 17%) – My option, I already said something about it.
  • I refer to classic audit schemes, like the 14-point assessment (25 votes, or 18%) – it is quite interesting to use some methods like the 14-point assessment, which relies on things like logic links, very long or very small tasks, a balance between types of tasks on the schedule and some others. The reason I did not check this one is that I never found one of those schemes who served me completely, without the need for correction. But I completely understand who opted for this, especially if they are under a PMO environment, and things must adhere to a standardized process.

Anyway, thank you for responding to my poll, thank you for reading, and please post comments whether you agree or not with what I said. See you all next time!

Posted on: September 18, 2018 03:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

"Intelligence is not the ability to store information, but to know where to find it."

- Albert Einstein