Effective risk management starts with experience.

We can study about risk management.  We can take classes on steps for risk assessments.  We can learn about using probability and impact to prioritize our hazard lists.  But it’s experience that streamlines our risk assessment process.  With experience we can quickly list only the relevant risks.  Its experience that automatically eliminates the low probability and low impact items.  The unnecessary items become invisible and therefore free time to focus on the more important items.

Even with the proper training, inexperience costs both time and money in a few ways:

1)      Exaggerating lists of hazards.  This creates a difficult to manage list of “what could possibly go wrong”.  Each item then needs to be sorted and priorities according to probability (high/how) and impact (high/low).  This prioritization take time.

2)      Underestimating or even being oblivious to any time estimates, possible delays or bottlenecks, unaware of critical path issues that may arise.   Being unaware is more dangerous to a project than over-zealousness in listing the risks.

3)      Having no idea of the impact or probability of the incident.  Without an accurate knowledge of the probability or impact of the incident occurring, you simply have a long list of “could happen”.  You have no way to prioritize or idea on which to create contingency plans for and which to simply accept.

Acknowledging that sometimes (as in the above) ignorance isn’t bliss, what can we do about it?  We can’t gain experience overnight……or can we?

Borrowing expertise.

The first step for a project manager is to be self-aware of your talents, skills, and gaps.  If you are not experienced in a particular area, look for ways to fill that space.  Once that hole is identified, there are several ways to gain experience and expertise in a short amount of time.  The quickest way is to steal it from someone or someplace else.

1)      Hire a consultant that has done this type of project before can be a big help.

2)      Interview your current project team for similar projects in their history.

3)      Look for similar projects in sibling departments or groups.  Perhaps borrow their resident expert for a short period.

4)      Visit your local professional organizations and groups that are in a similar technology.

5)      Query on the various social professional networks like LinkedIn for advice.

6)      Research the internet for recommendations and articles.


Every project will have a variety of risks associated with them.  It’s difficult to be experienced in all the things that could possible happen.  But with a few tricks, you can fill in the gaps to contineu to develop your own knowledge base as well as protect the project’s progress.

Let me know if these tips help.


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