What are the key aspects to focus on for a project manager to ensure consistently successful projects? Perhaps the most important area is that of Risk Management. Of course, selecting a competent team is also important, as are the right sort of skills, experience and training – even the most junior members of the project team can benefit from a basic PM course such as the APM Project Fundamentals – but understanding how to effectively manage risk is essential.
Developing and growing a business always requires some measure of risk in order to be truly successful but these types of calculated risk are very different from uncontrolled and unexpected risks that sometimes arise in a project and are an indicator of the project running out of control towards failure. So managing and controlling those risks is a deciding factor in the final outcome of any project.
If you can effectively manage potential risks within your project management planning and control processes they won’t take you and your team by surprise if they occur. Be prepared with possible solutions and the option of additional resources from your contingency by establishing a good risk management plan.
One of the best ways of doing this is to include, in the planning phase, an opportunity to look for shortcomings in the various tasks to be included in the project plan. Involve the whole team in this exercise – it is often those who will be doing the actual work who will be the quickest to spot potential problems. And when several people raise concerns over the same aspect of the project, this is likely to be a problem area later on in the project lifecycle.
But don’t let concerns dictate how the project is planned – just ensure that you take the concerns into account and include them in the risk management process. Sometimes a risk such as completing a particular task by a tight deadline can seem insurmountable to the person assigned to the task but if, as project manager, you know that additional manpower can be made available if needed, then the risk ceases to be a major one.
And if there are problems on a project because risks have arisen (either predicted or unexpected) be sure to find the root cause of the issue to prevent it from happening again and, indeed, to be able to resolve it effectively. Don’t make the mistake of focussing on resolving the effect of the risk rather than the underlying cause.
There are many factors that determine whether a project is successful or not but risk management is certainly up there in the Top 5 – if you could benefit from more advice and information on how best to implement a risk management plan then try one of the many online project management courses that cover this topic in detail.