Blog Project Management How to identify foreseen/unforeseen risks in your project?

How to identify foreseen/unforeseen risks in your project?

Risks can be foreseen or expected resulting in contingencies built into your project plan. A good project manager is able to identify the issue at the earliest, work out a solution to mitigate the problem and align the expectation of the stakeholders.

Some of the risk can be

  • Natural calamities.
  • Major requirement or design/architectural changes in the middle of the project.
  • Impacts to project in terms of Cost and/or schedule due to change in business priority.
  • Replacement wiring installed and old wiring not removed caused the ceiling to collapse overnight and shut down all terminal access in the offices except in central computer operations for few days.
  • Systems down for more than a day, for technology upgrade, and then for testing.
  • Weekly/monthly maintenance work

Good insight into problems faced by Project Managers as listed above. Some projects require mandatory planning for business continuity and disaster recovery (DR sites) increasing schedule and budget, but eliminating business impact.

Generally in IT projects, the major unforeseen risk (slowly turning into foreseen risk) is the over optimism of the project manager to achieve the target, but most of the time they fail to achieve it on time and unfortunately the IT leaders don’t handle this issue well.

Some project manager’s experiences with respect to risks-

  • The network infrastructure was planned to be built during the weekend before the repositioning. But the employees of the company that planned to build the infrastructure quitted their job because of an issue with their boss and so we could not use our desk phones and the network for nearly two days. It wasn’t a big problem but there was no backup plan at that time.
  • An example where a server was inexplicably going down around the same time each night. Initial investigations drew a blank, a team of engineers was sent to find the root cause to this problem. At the site it was found that a cleaner unplugs the server every day for her vacuum cleaner.
  • Some of the things for which we don’t plan anything because the most problems for example the Civil Defense personnel had to be called because of a strange petrol smell coming from a neighboring unit, it seemed a fire hazard. The whole building had to be evacuated for a false alarm. It disrupted our daily operations considerably.

It is practically impossible to foresee every single eventuality with a project. That is why running a Monte Carlo to calculate contingency is not sufficient. You must also calculate a risk management reserve and ensure a budget is set aside for those worst case scenarios. Based on experience, best ways to prevent major controllable issues with a project is to have sufficient time allotted to plan and execute it.

Examples include:

  • Do not start engineering until requirements are complete.
  • Ensure engineering is complete before construction.
  • Have enough time to complete construction or deployment.

At times although risk impacts the project it also initiates lean innovations in the work around and controls implementation. This is indeed a great learning for the team and project managers.

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