To recap from earlier segments I and II, we talked about the critical project success elements of Project Schedule Rigor and Proactive Resource Management. Now let’s finish off with the critical element of Proactive Risk Abatement.
Proactive Risk Abatement is something that is often completely missing, or disguised as a filler page in a budget request as things that may go wrong. Webster’s definition of proactive is “acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes”. The definition of abatement is “the act or process of reducing or otherwise abating something”. Abating risks simply means you want to avoid a risk becoming an issue. It’s not about managing issues – that’s what contingencies are for; it’s about avoiding them.
At GE I learned a process that boiled down to a few simple steps:
- Define all the risks you could think of
- Decide on scale of one (low) to five (high) both the likelihood that risk might occur (probability of occurrence) and the effect (effect of occurrence).
- Decide what actions you could take to abate those risks
- Put a “trigger date” on when those actions would have to be executed (to be effective)
- Decide how much the actions (if executed on the trigger dates) would reduce either/or the probability and the effect.
- Decide what contingency actions would need to be taken for any risks that were not effectively abated (it means those risks turned into real issues).
- Document all this as a Risk Abatement Plan and tie the trigger dates to your main Project Plan/Schedule.
- At EVERY Project Review confirm that every risk abatement action with trigger dates on or before the review date have been, or get executed.
In summary, going from a simple list of “risks” on a page to a proactive, actionable plan, tied to your project plan, will result in far fewer failed projects. I suggest it makes your project plan more than twice as likely to succeed.
To summarize all segments, IT Projects have had, and continue to have, a high failure rate. Many agree on a 60% rate of failure. Beyond fundamentals of knowledge and experience (and certification if you like) of project management methodologies, we believe paying attention to three key elements improve your chances of success. Applying Project Schedule Rigor, Proactive Resource Management, and Proactive Risk Abatement will make you less likely to fall into the abyss failed IT Projects.
Project Management Institute – http://www.pmi.org/
And my on the job training and experience learned during my 20 years working in IT at GE.