Project Management as a field of study teems with references to risk. The most common categories being Cost – its escalation due to scope creep, Time – because activities might take longer than initially planned for, and Scope – as the project may fail to deliver its original desired objectives. The main mitigation strategy that’s recommended to address all of these is a robust change management process that’s not only stated, but also enforced, monitored and controlled and any Project Manager would undoubtedly agree. However, in the field of client reporting and maybe others, there’s actually a glaringly obvious other option…
A lot can happen in a year. In January 1936, when King George V died, his son Edward VIII ascended the throne. He infamously abdicated and his brother, King George VI took his place as monarch in December of the same year – twelve months of regal turbulence that hadn’t been witnessed since 1483 or 1066 when battles and conquests were forcing royal transition ahead of matters of health and heart.
In 1936, there was no provision in English law for the sovereign to abdicate. For it to occur, Parliament had to pass a bill to remove the King from the throne and the King’s royal assent of that Act was needed before it could become law. (Assent was given on the 10th December and abdication occurred one day later). In Project Management terms, that’s a change management process being agreed once the required change is known, coupled with one would imagine, a fraught and frantic period of uncertainty with unplanned cost and unnecessary burden to all of those involved.
Pre-planning and forethought might not have predicted what was to come but would have improved its management and if the now known risks were identified, perhaps a different path might have been taken. Risks in Project Management are generally known and documented. Well managed projects keep track of the risks to prevent them occurring and/or to minimise their impact when they do. Let’s look at some of the ways risk is categorised in Project Management.
Increased Cost can occur in a project for a number of reasons, such as when functions or features are added beyond those set out and agreed in initial terms. Time and effort are directed to the new requirements, often at the expense of those that have been committed to contractually which means less time to complete the project, poor or incomplete work, and/or time and cost over-run in delivery. It occurs in four ways:
- Because initial requirements, objectives and descriptions were not clear or sufficiently detailed
- When direct communication between client and delivery team participants is poorly managed
- Deliberately, when the client attempts to secure additional functionality “for free”
- Because the project is solving the wrong problem
Time Risks are issues that may cause delay and ultimately late project delivery and are much more than just time-based annoyances. They can affect your products and services, ROI, reputation, and so forth and happen due to:
- Poor or incomplete project planning
- Scope creep
- Unforeseen circumstances or materialised risk
- Unmanaged change
- Competition for appropriately skilled resources
Scope Risk is the potential for the completed project to not deliver the value that’s anticipated and this is experienced when:
- Formal needs and requirements change during the project but are not acted upon
- The project requirements were not clear or detailed enough and this was not identified through poor project management practice
- When external forces alter the needs of the organisation during the project’s duration
The last point is particularly interesting. The longer a project takes, the more likely it is for the competitive environment to change and subsequently priorities, needs and requirements too. This is one of the fundamental drivers of “Agile” project management where the project is broken down into multiple iterations and the performance of each is assessed (and if necessary, improved upon) along the way.
The outcome of all of these risks can and should be managed through an appropriate change management process. Yet there’s another fact that leaps out when you read these together and that is that the likelihood of any of these occurring increases proportionately alongside the length of the project being undertaken, i.e. these risks are more likely to materialise the longer a project’s duration is.
Doesn’t it make absolute sense therefore that a shorter project duration can mean less risk in the overall project? Does a shorter route to the same destination mean you’ll get there quicker? If it does, does less time in your chosen mode of transport mean less likelihood of an accident? Well, not necessarily, but given two routes to the same destination, if the shorter one had no increased risk in it, wouldn’t it always be the smarter choice when your end goal is speed of arrival?
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To find out more about Reporting as a Service and how it benefits firms like yours, visit our website at www.opus-nebula.com and contact us personally or via [email protected] to arrange a meeting and see a live demonstration of the system.