Can a change in color can cause change in moods of people?
If you have attended project portfolio management meetings, you would have seen this happening for real. You know what I am talking about - project status colors: Green, Yellow/Amber and Red. If a project is in Green, it is perceived to be all hunky dory, and typically no grilling questions asked. And if a project status is Yellow (and even worse if it is Red), all eyes will turn to a project manager and will ask him/her ‘how did it go wrong’ sort of questions. And depending on whether you are on Green or Yellow/Red side, it amazes me to see how people reacts.
Project planning always helps. Without planning, you may end up shooting in the dark or may fly or die with your own luck. But no matter how much you plan, there is always a possibility of situations that would just pop up and will turn your project status into Red from Green. These situation occurs when a project risk is realized. Welcome the world of Project Risk Management for PM. Project risk is always considered to happen in future, something that cannot be predicted. So it is not possible to have uniform policies or standards to deal with situations when risks are realized.
That said, there are ways, that project managers can equips themselves to manage project risks,
Risk management begins even before the project is kicked off. Project managers have to take into account, possible setback because of potential risks and tweak project schedule accordingly. I am not saying you should do too much over-stretch project schedule but have a reasonable contingency buffer periodically during each phase of project planning.
The first step to dealing with the unknown occurs before the project even starts. When the schedule is being created, there should be enough slack in it to account for contingencies that happen during the project. A project manager can add a buffer at the end of the schedule or during each major phase, or the project manager can over-estimate task durations. This sort of contingency planning in the schedule will help everyone deal with unexpected problems or issues during the project execution phase. The project manager might even need to put a contingency buffer in the scope and the budget in addition to the schedule.
Though project manager may have considered enough contingent buffer in a project schedule, that’s not all. When risk situation really happens, you will need additional, right resources to pull off the project from falling into 'yellow/red' zone. We are talking about having contingent project resources but they are not going to be idle resources just to be active when unexpected happens. This is where the project resource management skills come into picture. You will have to have resources to jump-start-working when unexpected issue comes up but you will have to utilize these resources during normal course of project. It means you will have to consider work-in-other-projects, work with other project managers such that these additional resources can be assigned work in other work. But be sure that these resources will be preemptively available to you.
It is amazing skill to be able to foresee problems and align resources for optimal utilization.
Do we learn everything by doing it ourselves, we don’t. History has greater lessons to teach us. Project managers should research the lifecycle of similar projects done in the past. One can closely look at the issues, risks, challenges past projects have faced, which things worked for those project, which did not. These things will certainly help project managers to plan right buffer, right resources at right phase of the project. If necessary, and I’d suggest talking to subject matter expert in this regards, they will have insights which may greatly benefit your project. The idea is, learn from past mistakes and get ready to handle those in your project in future.
It is a great idea to pen down your learning somewhere: enduring and easy to access place. The things you would learn from past project mistakes, how those were handled, managed with contingency, of Think Fast techniques. It is important to have such knowledgebase accessible for your team members, fellow project managers as a reference guide, to easily & quickly update with new findings.
There are good number of reasons that it is beneficial to use project risk management software that can also serve as online knowledgebase. Think of it otherwise. Let say, you don’t have online risk register and you are managing risks in excels per project and dumping into some folder on FTP server. Project managers today, don’t have time and energies to connect to ftp servers and locate past risk registers or knowledgebase. The key is to have easy to access technological solution where project managers find
You may not do everything by book, but having such book in place is greatly helpful and no one can deny that.