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Manage Your Project Risk

Apr 17, 2008
SOX has created a new world for risk management. Within team delegation, it is critical to understand the potential risk. You can do this by simply creating a risk list.

What is a risk list? It is a list, in order of importance, of the areas of significant risk for a given objective or project. It is important to understand the consequences (to the project, team, or organization) if the tasks do not get done. There are several types of risk including: staff-related or technical, such as a late delivery of critical components. Look at the big picture for your project when you are assessing the risks.

When determining risks, anything that might affect successful delivery of the project is a risk. At the first sign of trouble, you must be ready to assist the team in risk reduction.

This means that you continue to monitor the overall health of the project, but keep autonomy in place for the delegated tasks and their owners. This can be a tricky course to travel, it is easier once you understand the steps to follow when risk arises.

My risk management style came out of need, not strategy. I was working way too much, and with a team in multiple timezones, things were getting stuck in a holding pattern waiting for me to deal with them. I realized that I needed a global team to keep things moving. To do this well, I realized that having a clear direction and understanding of the potential risks when delegated tasks was essential. Any task runs the risk of getting off schedule.

The most importance step of risk management is to have a clear process communicated before the problem arises. That way, you are not tempted to step back in and take control at the first missed milestone.

Now, once you know these problems and you've created these steps, you need to create a process to correct them.

These steps include: 1. Fully understand the problem. 2. Ensure that the person you've delegated to has the confidence to resume the task. 3. Provide support and suggestions, but keep the delegated role within the individual's ownership. 4. Help them develop a procedure to prevent any recurrence of the problem.

Ownership You Keep We started with the delegated tasks, but not everything can be delegated. There are certain things that you just cannot delegate as a manager. The most critical, of course, is your leadership. Any monetary or reward systems must remain in your authority as well. Focus your time and management effort on exceptions only. Don't micromanage the day-to-day. However, if problems occur, or if they get off-track, be ready to help them get back on track with the necessary support.

Naturally, no matter how much you delegate, you need to retain final authority overall. We talked a lot about providing autonomy and authorization to the individual. The bottom line is that this is your team and your project so you have that ultimate responsibility.

The final key area you must retain authority over is strategic planning. Ensure that the entire team is involved and understands your path and your direction. But that ownership is really left up to you as the manager. Take the time to manage the risks and your delegation will go smoothly.
About the Author
Lisa Symons has 12 years experience with IT teams around the world ensuring project deliverables. Are you tired of team conflict impacting timelines, projects and staffing, but don't have time to implement a solution? Download her FREE six step audio program Addressing Team Conflict
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