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Topics: Change Management, Healthcare, Risk Management
Is coronavirus in your risk registry?
I just entered coronavirus in my risk registry because it is a separate and unique risk to my projects. It impacts the availability/capacity of resources over and above things like BAU.
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I have to disagree with some of my colleagues here. COVID19 is indeed a risk. Yes, I understand that it could also be seen like any other illness that might impact projects; i.e. flu. But that is the point, it is not like any other illness; it is not like almost any other event. A project risk is "an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives". I could list all the risks that COVID19 poses to my projects, but rather have kept it as an umbrella for several risks. If some are reluctant to include it as a direct risk, then it would certainly qualify as an ambiguity risk. My organization's entire workforce will be moved to a work-from-home solution next week, normal project deliverables have been put on hold as we prepare for that solution, and the lists goes on. We don't know what the future holds. We can have terminology and semantic wars, but at the end of the day, history will record the disruption to our projects as COVID19; a risk that was identified (certainly in my risk register), eventuated, disrupted our project, and then ultimately mitigated...we hope!
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1 reply by Kiron Bondale
Mar 20, 2020 5:16 PM
Kiron Bondale
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Sante -

I may come across as academic, but COVID-19 is NOT a risk. A risk is an uncertain event which COVID-19 is not. It has happened.

It is certainly a source of risks to your project. For example, if a key team member falls sick then our project will be delayed.

The probability of that risk being realized might increase due to a pandemic occurring, but COVID-19 itself is not a risk.

Kiron
Mar 19, 2020 4:14 AM
Replying to Eduard Hernandez
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According to PMBOK, risk can be defined as an uncertain event or condition that results in a positive or negative effect on a project's objectives. Whereas, an issue can be defined as an event or condition that has already happened and has impacted or currently impacting the project objectives.

COVID-19 is already happening, thus should be considered an issue. However, the fact that there are many unknown things about it (for instance, we have no idea how long it will take to go back to BAU), makes it fall also in the risk category.

That being said, I have not updated the risks and issues logs, I shall do it promptly. Thanks for the reminder, Sante ;-)
Thanks Eduard, my colleagues in other companies have done the same.
There are also force majeure clauses in many project contracts that "excuse performance obligations or to extend time of performance on a contract when an unforeseeable event, or one that is beyond the contractor’s control, causes project delay." Watch this space for the many projects that go down this road waving the COVID19 banner. Is that also not a risk? ;-)
Mar 20, 2020 4:57 PM
Replying to Sante Vergini
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I have to disagree with some of my colleagues here. COVID19 is indeed a risk. Yes, I understand that it could also be seen like any other illness that might impact projects; i.e. flu. But that is the point, it is not like any other illness; it is not like almost any other event. A project risk is "an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives". I could list all the risks that COVID19 poses to my projects, but rather have kept it as an umbrella for several risks. If some are reluctant to include it as a direct risk, then it would certainly qualify as an ambiguity risk. My organization's entire workforce will be moved to a work-from-home solution next week, normal project deliverables have been put on hold as we prepare for that solution, and the lists goes on. We don't know what the future holds. We can have terminology and semantic wars, but at the end of the day, history will record the disruption to our projects as COVID19; a risk that was identified (certainly in my risk register), eventuated, disrupted our project, and then ultimately mitigated...we hope!
Sante -

I may come across as academic, but COVID-19 is NOT a risk. A risk is an uncertain event which COVID-19 is not. It has happened.

It is certainly a source of risks to your project. For example, if a key team member falls sick then our project will be delayed.

The probability of that risk being realized might increase due to a pandemic occurring, but COVID-19 itself is not a risk.

Kiron
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1 reply by Sante Vergini
Mar 22, 2020 3:39 PM
Sante Vergini
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Hi Kiron, I prefer to think of it as an umbrella of risks, as I mentioned in my last post. Yes, the spin-off risks associated with COVID-19 could/should be listed (i.e. someone getting sick on the project), but I have chosen to list them all under a COVID-19 risk in the register. As another colleague mentioned, should it have been listed before it "happened"? What does "happened" mean? I listed it 2 months ago before the hysteria. If I had listed it back then as a possible pandemic that would shut down the country (which it now has) which would drastically impact the project, would that be a risk? ;-) Instead, it was listed as an ambiguity risk, because no one really knew much about it.
Yes.
It depends on the timeline and what really is uncertain.
And it should best be handled on organization level.

Before December 2019, Covid-19 was a unknown unknown, which was a risk, comparable to a meteor hitting NYC, though more likely. Since then and until it impacted your project it was definitely a risk and you could have taken countermeasures at least since January. Many people hoped in this period that it would not blow up like it did, so it certainly was uncertain for some weeks. Did you develop risk responses?

Now it is a problem that you have to deal with, agree with Kiron on that.

Still based on that problem, what will happen to your project is still uncertain in many aspects: Will your company go bankrupt, will your project still be a priority, will your sponsor be gone, your residual team capable, etc..
Besides these threats, also look on the bright side: every disruption creates opportunities.
At least, you should review your business case.

Epidemiologists warned about such a virus since years, but many people warn about many things, so it was a good practice not to add Covid-19 as a single risk.
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1 reply by Sante Vergini
Mar 22, 2020 3:44 PM
Sante Vergini
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Hi Thomas, It was listed in January, but there were no responses listed at the time because so little was known (it was an ambiguity risk). Since then, a list of mitigation strategies and responses were drafted, and ultimately enacted. Some risk registers won't list it; many will. Some see/saw it as a risk (me included, beginning in January), to the point we entered it in the registry. Others don't see it as a risk. One good thing is that healthy debate is never at risk of disappearing :-)
Mar 20, 2020 5:16 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Sante -

I may come across as academic, but COVID-19 is NOT a risk. A risk is an uncertain event which COVID-19 is not. It has happened.

It is certainly a source of risks to your project. For example, if a key team member falls sick then our project will be delayed.

The probability of that risk being realized might increase due to a pandemic occurring, but COVID-19 itself is not a risk.

Kiron
Hi Kiron, I prefer to think of it as an umbrella of risks, as I mentioned in my last post. Yes, the spin-off risks associated with COVID-19 could/should be listed (i.e. someone getting sick on the project), but I have chosen to list them all under a COVID-19 risk in the register. As another colleague mentioned, should it have been listed before it "happened"? What does "happened" mean? I listed it 2 months ago before the hysteria. If I had listed it back then as a possible pandemic that would shut down the country (which it now has) which would drastically impact the project, would that be a risk? ;-) Instead, it was listed as an ambiguity risk, because no one really knew much about it.
Mar 22, 2020 1:23 PM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
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It depends on the timeline and what really is uncertain.
And it should best be handled on organization level.

Before December 2019, Covid-19 was a unknown unknown, which was a risk, comparable to a meteor hitting NYC, though more likely. Since then and until it impacted your project it was definitely a risk and you could have taken countermeasures at least since January. Many people hoped in this period that it would not blow up like it did, so it certainly was uncertain for some weeks. Did you develop risk responses?

Now it is a problem that you have to deal with, agree with Kiron on that.

Still based on that problem, what will happen to your project is still uncertain in many aspects: Will your company go bankrupt, will your project still be a priority, will your sponsor be gone, your residual team capable, etc..
Besides these threats, also look on the bright side: every disruption creates opportunities.
At least, you should review your business case.

Epidemiologists warned about such a virus since years, but many people warn about many things, so it was a good practice not to add Covid-19 as a single risk.
Hi Thomas, It was listed in January, but there were no responses listed at the time because so little was known (it was an ambiguity risk). Since then, a list of mitigation strategies and responses were drafted, and ultimately enacted. Some risk registers won't list it; many will. Some see/saw it as a risk (me included, beginning in January), to the point we entered it in the registry. Others don't see it as a risk. One good thing is that healthy debate is never at risk of disappearing :-)
Yes it is a risk.
Mar 19, 2020 4:14 AM
Replying to Eduard Hernandez
...
According to PMBOK, risk can be defined as an uncertain event or condition that results in a positive or negative effect on a project's objectives. Whereas, an issue can be defined as an event or condition that has already happened and has impacted or currently impacting the project objectives.

COVID-19 is already happening, thus should be considered an issue. However, the fact that there are many unknown things about it (for instance, we have no idea how long it will take to go back to BAU), makes it fall also in the risk category.

That being said, I have not updated the risks and issues logs, I shall do it promptly. Thanks for the reminder, Sante ;-)
I do agree with Eduard’s statement referring to the PMBOK, moreover I think that such event/issue shall be addressed excessively, all Buisness owners n project managers must conduct their own analysis to come out with a course of actions that may help to reduce/mitigate the pandemic impact/consequence, and try to propose a legislation that can find a way to compensate the affected companies as well as project, that’s required to be specific to COVID19 . Let me tell you about my nightmare that I’m currently struggling with ; due to W.H.O classification of COVID-19 as a pandemic , my project owner has forced us (contractor) to suspend all project activities till further notification (at least 2 weeks lost already) meanwhile they’re saying that pandemic is considered as a force majeure, so that we’re only have a right to claim of EOT as per the contract terms, which isn’t fair at all, while the country authorized entities has circulated some precautions (Not instructing for full suspension) to be applied by all private sectors organizations those which we’ve fully complied Immediately, moreover our colleagues in other project didn’t suspend the work as we did, so in this case we need to have a specific publication/recommendation from an independent international organization can help us to resolve this big issue taking into consideration the countries’/states’ laws /regulations, avoiding disputes and potential judiciary interference
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1 reply by Sante Vergini
Mar 29, 2020 11:45 PM
Sante Vergini
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I mentioned this the other day, that many project customers will try and use the force majeure excuse to close the project out. But nearly all force majeure sections in contracts have to actually name the event (earthquake, flooding etc.) so I doubt anyone put a pandemic in there, but you never know.
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