Five Simple Ways to Reduce Project Risk in Application Development
All application development projects come with risk. It’s the nature of doing business. And no matter how great a project manager is, there will be factors no one can predict or expect.
Risk impacts everyone on a project, but often the project manager is the only resource focused on it. It’s key to develop a culture of trust by getting everyone involved with risk management from the start. Risks are not easy to talk about; project resources are typically the first to know when something is going off the rails but may be unable or reluctant to share that information with the broader team or client. When you have trust among the team and client, it’s much easier to identify risk and be proactive rather than deal reactively and assign blame.
Project risk management is about maximizing your chances of project success by identifying risks early on and planning how to manage them. Everyone on the project can get involved in five ways:
- Identify risk as part of your process
Be consistent with how you handle risk. Develop the proper tools and empower team members to be engaged in risk identification, tracking, and resolution. Give everyone a chance to contribute and share their expertise.
- Don’t ignore “unknown unknowns”
Encourage team members to be creative and consider what could happen, even if it’s not likely. Further, don’t be afraid to list things that they can’t quantify. Sometimes the non-quantifiable risk is ignored until it becomes quantifiable – and problematic!
- Communicate risk effectively
This seems obvious, but it takes work. Address risk early and often and be sure to ask probing questions. Risks can be uncomfortable to talk about, but you will always get a better response by addressing issues head-on than trying to brush them under the rug.
- Give team members ownership of risk identification and resolution
This is a time to spread the credit around! Encourage everyone to put some thought into the risks you might face and ensure that when problems are identified proactively you take time to give credit where it is due.
- Make your process repeatable
Building a culture of risk management takes time and consistency. Every time you repeat the success, it gets easier. Ensure that there are clear opportunities to define risk, identify solutions and incorporate mitigation strategies into your plan.
Tip for Project Managers
As a Project Manager, I try to set up reports and schedule set times to meet with team members to understand what may be impacting a project. I try to respect people’s time, but sometimes it’s best to ask those probing questions. Especially when you have technical resources talking to technical resources on the client side of the project. Make sure to follow up even if you don’t have a good reason to think something’s wrong.