This is the third in a series of articles looking
at the effects of Covid-19 on project management in the development and
humanitarian sectors. For the second article in the series, visit:
Identification and management of risk is
intrinsic and non-negotiable in project management, and certainly one area that
will be irrevocably changed by the current health crisis. I believe we will
change not the way in which risk is identified and assessed, but rather our relationship with risk.
We have all experienced situations where risk
management has not been treated with the necessary attention or resources. Our
attitude to external risk in particular can sometimes be blasé. The good news
for risk management is that, going forward from this crisis, we may never be so
nonchalant about risk again.
I hope the human race will learn to be more
forward thinking, especially in relation to the global challenges we face, such
as climate change. This forward thinking will include risk identification and
response in project management, especially in sectors as susceptible to change
as international development.
Surely one of the lessons of the past few
months is the importance of timely and accurate information to the risk
identification process. The failure to act soon enough or strong enough to
Covid-19 by some World leaders can be at least partly blamed on their having
misleading or incomplete information until it was too late. Risk identification
works on the same “Garbage In Garbage Out” premise: if project teams don’t have
the right information available at the right time for risk identification, they
are likely to end with flawed results.
Whatever information you have available,
the next step is to assess and respond to the identified risks. We have seen
different responses to coronavirus from national and regional governments, and
it’s still too early to too definitively judge those measures. But on some
occasions, governments armed with the same information have taken differing
strategies to risk response. Political motivations are sometimes a factor, but
don’t always explain such divergence. So are we, as Project Managers, really
sure we’re choosing the RIGHT responses to our risks?
Finally, risk monitoring and control. Two great
tools for engaging with existing and new risks emerging during the project’s
implementation are the Risk Register and the Project Risk Review. The
coronavirus crisis is the perfect example of the changing nature of risk. Having
experienced the effects of coronavirus, how we take on the challenge of
evolving our approach to risk management is up to us.
For more information on Risk Management see
the Project DPro Guide: High level risk analysis is discussed on page 70
(Identification and Definition), and assessment, response, and Monitoring &
Control are covered by pages 81-86 (Set Up).