Earlier this year I published a blog post on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Project Managers, providing seven best practices for Project Managers (PMs) of best-in-class organizations. As one of the biggest events in Project Managers’ calendars, the PMI Global Congress 2012 in Vancouver, draws to a close, I thought I’d take what I’d learned from the event and expand on each of the seven habits in turn. First up is the art of project risk accountability.
Accountability is more than just showing up on time, delivering reports and delegating work to other team members. Truly successful organizations foster PMs that feel personally responsible for a project’s success, as in today’s economy just one under-performing project can undermine the profitability of an entire program.
How do best-in-class companies achieve accountability?
When it comes to risk, organizations need to foster a risk-aware culture where employees do not feel it’s OK to ‘walk on by’ ignoring risks and opportunities. When project risks are identified, accountability is all about making sure that someone is responsible for each and every individual risk. In addition to understanding the risk inside and out and taking responsibility for whatever the mitigation plan may be, this person should also be reporting back to senior management regularly on progress.
Accountability is also about regular reviews of risks and opportunities. The risk process isn’t a one-off exercise – it has to become business as usual for Project Managers. Increasingly organizations are checking how ‘fresh’ risks are as an indication of how often PM’s are identifying new risks and updating the status of existing risk information. Using a single risk management system makes this possible.
Accountability is ultimately created by a culture of “no excuses” where sharing risks is a sign of strength, not weakness. By involving senior management directly and actively in periodic, rigorous examinations of a job’s status, PMs will feel responsible and comfortable enough to share both good and bad news– allowing corrective initiatives to be put into place before the risk escalates.
Project Risk Management software, like Active Risk’s Active Risk Manager (ARM), promote organization-wide, consistent processes and the delivery of accurate, reliable data so that PMs can anticipate risk and manage it more effectively. We are increasingly seeing organizations add risk identification and management to project KPIs and incorporate it into remuneration packages.
When we think about project risk and accountability, it is also valuable to think about how risks are connected. Here new technologies have a major role to play. For example, Ron might be assigned to manage risks A, B, and C. Mary may be assigned to manage risks X, Y, and Z. Ron and Mary may never realize that risks C and Z are highly interconnected and could act as catalysts to trigger whole families of risks. If your project risk is managed entirely by spreadsheets or disconnected systems, then senior management might not even get visibility of such connections across projects and programs.
Using a tool like Active Risk Manager Risk Connectivity, risk interconnections become clear via an interactive visual display. Accountability can be assigned to manage down the risk or break the connections, something which was very difficult, if not impossible in the past. Click here to learn more about ARM Risk Connectivity.
How do you keep your project managers accountable and engaged in project risk management? Can you see how risks are connected?
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