Project risks – who’s in control?

Sword GRC Blog

Project risks - who's in control?

Does it sometimes feel as if risks within your projects are beyond your control? You’re unsure about risk exposure levels? Unclear about the controls and measures in place to prevent or mitigate risk events? Or, it’s only with the benefit of hindsight that you can see where risks could have actually presented positive opportunities? In this blog post, Jenny Ritson-Smith, Sword GRC Marketing Manager shares her insights to controlling project risks through effective risk management.

“We all like to feel in control and on top of our workloads and it’s natural to have worries when it comes to project management – strategically, financially, reputationally, there may be a lot at stake. So, it may be useful for project team members to recognize that not every doubt or concern raised represents a risk or threat to the project’s success. Going ‘back to basics, reinforcing the project definition, and reminding all people involved exactly what the project’s objectives are and what the desired project outcome should be can be a useful re-focus.

“The risk management process should ideally involve linking threats and opportunities to your objectives at every stage of the project. Having a clear picture of how uncertainty could influence the attainment of project goals is important for prioritising risks. And unless you can establish a clear connection between a concern and an objective, with either a positive or negative impact on the goal, then that worry should not be regarded as a legitimate risk and can be discounted.”

The need for simplicity in risk v opportunity identification

“Ideally members of the team will be able to easily flag up threats and opportunities and these can be considered for the project’s risk register. Including or discounting possible risks establishes greater control, whilst preventing distortion in risk data from distractions or perhaps irrelevant information. 

“Communication is always important too. Data captured is likely to be of poor quality if there is ambiguity around language when it comes to considering what constitutes a threat or opportunity. Seizing control of risk demands clarity and consistency – clear, actionable descriptions will be useful to all.

Risk prioritization to inform actions

“Having ascertained the possible causes and consequences of risk events, actions can be taken to prevent them from occurring, or, if they are positive risks, to promote them. Prioritizing risks, comparing their likelihood and impact will help with budget management and the allocation of resources. Perhaps try taking into consideration the cost benefits available through taking action or choosing not to. In some cases, toleration of impact may be within risk appetite.

“The ability to monitor actions taken is really key to ensuring that projects are remaining on target and fulfilling objectives throughout their lifecycles. A constantly updated, real-time view of risk data enables far more effective budget control. For example, budgets for contingency can be allocated appropriately, and control over financial risk exposure maintained.

“Throughout the project lifecycle, the knowledge that contingency is being effectively allocated, emerging risks are being identified and recorded efficiently and that actions are being closed off in a timely manner all factor in keeping a project on track and under control.”

Seize control of project risks with Active Risk Manager

Learn more about the technology behind leading-edge risk management, Active Risk Manager.