Project Management

Project Confusion in Transition Management

Projects are about transition from one state to a desirably better state. Management is often viewed as a source of confusion. So lets break down the confusion and build up the means for transition to meaningful deliveries.

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Risk on the Fly

This brief is going to read like course notes! I wrote about a lesson learned in ignoring proper risk appraisals & risk documentation in my previous blog.

I hardly hear nowadays — the words quality & risk used literally particularly when a project, stage or project phase duration is deemed short; unless quality & risk are explicitly specified in requirements. Work seems to be always in a rush, with little time to spare for thinking through what was planned the first time around. Working on projects feels a lot like routine operations. Couple with the fast pace in Agile, the notion that if it works one should just go with it again seems to be the new norm. Working like clockwork may help the team deliver any assigned project pronto, eliminate overall project risks, and minimize disruptions. But it presents a downside, among which include:

  • Reliant on routines & safe zones
  • Complacency
  • Falling behind in exploiting new & emerging skills & technologies 
  • Loss of innovation (capability)
  • Eroding (team) professionalism

Whatever the circumstances may be to rush a project (or lagging project activities), give a thought for project risks. It is an essential management attribute of a quality project. A quick recap on dealing with project risks ~

Some structures. There has to be some form of structure when discussing risks. Consider a structured approach to administer project risks. For starters:

  • Adapt guidelines & recommendations of a risk standard to the needs of your business or project. The standard may be from PMI or any other recognized bodies.
  • Categorize identified risks e.g. high, low, medium; where possible put a value to the risk e.g. risk score or perhaps cost should the risk occur.
  • Plan to mitigate the threat or exploit an opportunity; and put in place contingencies should the risk event happen. Keep in mind that contingencies for positive risks are meant perhaps to seize the moment e.g. secure pre-authorized approval to act

Give it some numbers. Create a risk score ႟. There are different means to evaluate risk. Choose a suitable approach /template e.g./wordings. Rate your risk attributes e.g.:

  1. What is the likelihood the risk will happen
  2. What will be its impact
  3. How hard is it to detect the risk (easy ↓ hard ↑ )

႟ = Risk Likelihood ✘ Risk Impact ✘ Risk Detectable

I would advocate framing risk & quality agendas when discussing project activities; especially when hard pressed for time to examine & investigate associated risks & quality concerns in separate meetings. For each prioritized risk:

Remember ...

  1. Assign risk ownership - as internal control & to flesh out the following points later
  2. Plan risk responses i.e. risk mitigation; and
  3. Implement risk responses (may entail changes to plans /activities at subsequent meetings), and monitor the risk response plan/activities (a QA task because the processes to monitor risk responses being put in place & in-effect are essentially quality processes)
  4. Plan for contingencies
  5. Test (where applicable) & review planned contingencies for identified risks. Depending on the context, risk contingencies may utilize evolving technologies which may silently run out of efficacy with knock on effects e.g. no parts, no expertise, no vendors. That will be really disastrous when you then have a useless contingency plan in hand. This brings us back to why we must revisit to review, revise & renew RA templates /samples /past submissions.


  • Lukas, J. A. & Clare, R. (2011). Top 10 mistakes made in managing project risks. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2011—North America, Dallas, TX. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
  • Hillson, D. (2014). Managing overall project risk. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2014—EMEA, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.


"Documentation is not understanding, process is not discipline, formality is not skill." — Jim Highsmith, Adaptive Software Development

Posted on: February 10, 2020 09:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Ignore Risk at Your Own Peril

Time and again I encounter problems on work quality that are easily mitigated. I learned from my colleagues recently they incurred losses due to sub-contracting work that were not thoroughly planned.

How did that happen?

Without the facts, the case may be attributed to the management of project quality & project risks which the project team may have neglected somewhat. A broad insight of that project:

Incorporate Quality

Project quality measures the effectiveness & efficiency of planned activities against common/acceptable benchmarks, best practices & standards. Quality is monitored to report progressively on developments, managed to keep things right, & controlled to deliver what was agreed/contracted. These are necessary quality processes performed throughout a project lifecycle.

The project team/manager is expected to abide & see to that:  

  • Corporate QA protocols are activated; e.g. QA processes tailored & defined specifically for assigned projects are followed
  • Risk management protocols are followed
  • QA and risk matters are communicated on time to customer /management /sponsors. Create a communications plan to keep stakeholders informed.
  • Feedback from stakeholders on quality & risk issues are attended to promptly
  • QA and risk assessments are discussed & examined separate from routine project development activities whenever possible

Their project suffered losses because the only quality process which they enforced (capable of) is to report on performance. That too in reporting superficially on ongoing task status & meeting task deadlines; in spite of established corporate quality policies of both contractor & customer. A prevalent practice which I observed, is that projects tend to focus on achieving stipulated terms, & to the letter at best. A common argument for this is that project management dynamics today are fluid. Quality hence is neither managed nor controlled — structurally.

Ignoring quality i.e. planning for quality & driving quality processes, in itself is a huge risk.

Plan for Risks

Risk must be identified, analysed, monitored & controlled with risk responses pre-authorized (where applicable) & confidently put in place. This should be a process with its own framework for risk ownership, accountability, and which is as-much-as-possible independent of the project development framework. Similar to that commonly practiced for corporate QA. The reason being risk matters should be evaluated separately from reviewing, planning & tasking project activities. More so when the project framework is Agile where activities are planned & tasks are assigned as like in a single breath, with little evidence of work, & seemingly always on schedule with hardly any impediment.

The least is to integrate risk & QA paperwork i.e. taking evidence that quality procedures & risk controls are effected. QA & risk management are key to ensuring the customer gets what was agreed and contracted. And the project team truly delivers what is expected.

Their lessons learned:

  1. Project team members failed to sit down to appraise risks on planned activities & tasks. The excuse being "work is Agile" & "risks were discussed" but in one go at planning.
  2. Project management failed to adequately define risk ownership, and with it the associated costs /costing of materialized risks.
  3. There is no formal ownership of known & identified risks. A typical chorus being "the whole Agile team is responsible" for the risks.
  4. Submission of assessment of identified risks through forms - using templates from past successful submissions, became a routine that no one would want to revisit & discuss. So "why rock the boat?".
  5. People saw each other as transients (due to the prevalence of engaging contract resources /expertise), & took a laissez-faire approach at work. A shortcoming without .. a teaming culture that inculcates professionalism, training, & upskilling competencies.

Risk planning is inevitable. There should be minimum protocols to follow for each & every project undertaken. There is after all a universal risk management standard



PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition (2017)


Posted on: February 01, 2020 04:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

"Weaseling out of things is good. It's what separates us from the other animals....except weasels."

- Homer Simpson