Bear Down on Risk Management
Being a sports fan in Chicago is not always easy. As a diehard Bears fan, I have experienced much heartache rooting for “my” teams. The Bears are still in the early stages of their rebuilding process, although the 2023 draft was promising. In the 2020 NFL draft, they once again drafted their hopeful franchise quarterback, with 2022 showing signs of promise but in truth many unanswered questions remain. Regardless of industry, risk management plays a major factor in decision making. Whether you are the General Manager of a Chicago sports team or are performing Project Management on an IT project, managing risks can impact your team’s success. For this reason, Kenway has a defined risk management approach that is implemented on all projects regardless of size and scope.
First, let’s look at the complexities of risk management. It is more than listing all things that can go wrong; instead, it is the art of prioritizing risks, identifying and proactively preventing their occurrence when it is prudent and possible to do so. And finally being prepared to act when a risk becomes an issue. To improve your risk management procedures, consider leveraging the following tactics:
- Know your drivers: Every project is constrained by one of the three core project drivers of budget, schedule and scope. Understanding your project’s driver will help you understand the most important risks to your project.
- Log your risks: Documentation is an asset to a project. Too often, we come up with excuses as to why a risk should not be documented. Have you ever heard the excuse that we should not log a risk, because it “may look bad?” Do you manage risks solely through a mental list and communicate it only when you think it is appropriate? Regardless of the rationale for the alternatives, documenting fact-based risks will increase the likelihood of project success. The reality is risks are things that haven’t occurred yet. Why should anyone have a concern about documenting something that hasn’t gone wrong?
- Define risk priority: Risks should be prioritized based on their impact to the project and the probability of their occurrence. At Kenway, we use a 10-point scale to rate impact and probability. By multiplying the impact by the probability, we get the severity of each risk that can be used to rate priority against the other risks.
- Understand symptoms and triggers: This is by far the most common area where risk management can be improved. What use is a risk management plan if you don’t have the tools in place to identify when a risk is becoming an issue? At Kenway, we identify up front the potential signs that a risk is coming to fruition. This allows us to react quickly at the first sight of a symptom and turn our mitigation plan into an issue resolution strategy.
- Have a mitigation plan: Be prepared by having a plan to mitigate risks. The plan should be inclusive of both how to mitigate the risk and who should be involved. And if the risk does manifest into an issue, have the tools in place to resolve it quickly.
- Monitor: Risk management is not a one-time event at the beginning of a project. It should be revisited and updated by the project manager and communicated to project stakeholders on a regular basis. Keeping on top of the risk log can ensure that your project team continues to stay ahead of challenges.
In regards to the Bears future, as a fan, I sure hope they have a robust risk management plan in place in the event of another quarterback failure. They must think the probability is low, but I sure know the impact would be high.