Many years ago I remember a young Project Manager new to the team asking me an important question:-
“If due to project constraints you can only implement one element of Project Management best practice what would that be?”
I remember answering this by pushing it back at the Newbie:-
“What would your answer be?”
She replied “bottom-up product based planning”. The reasons given were:-
- Gives your project a start and an end
- Helps develop work packages and task lists
- Sets project milestones
- Stops resource conflicts
- Helps progress monitoring
I am sure we can all add more to this list and it seems on the surface a fair answer and to be honest the most common quick fire answer to this important question.
I then gave my opinion without much internal debate.
“Risk and Issue Management is the No 1 Project Management best practice you need in order to maximise your chances of project success”
The reasons are as follows:-
- Engages Project Sponsors – Project sponsors are hard to engage and get involved in Project Governance unless they are given escalated risks and issues to resolve /mitigate. Very often Project Sponsors fail to turn up at project board meetings if they feel they are not fixing anything. It is important to note that one of the TOP reasons for projects failure is lack of engaged Project Sponsorship.
- Premature Project Closure – If risks and issues are not resolved /mitigated they gradually act like sand being feed into an engine. Your Project is an almost dead certainty to come to a grinding halt.
- Primitive Project Plan – Risks and Issue management can act like a primitive Project Plan maintaining project direction through the removal of delivery obstacles and bumping the project back on course as it hits unidentified project constraints..
- Stops Spin Management – When projects do not have effective Risk and Issue management the void on what is really going on in the engine room is filled with real issues and risks spun to be positive and then brushed under the carpet. Spin kills transparency and a lack of transparency and accountability kills projects.
- Can Protect your Job – When projects fail without the use of Project Management best practice and the expected outcome was a key organisational objective the common consequence is to blame the Project Manager as all other Project Stakeholders run for cover. The presence of an active well maintained risk and issue log detailing risk and issue ownerships, resolution /mitigation performance with key meeting dates listed could be all you have to defend yourself against being dishonourably sacked.
So if you’re a Project Manager interested in maximizing the chances of Project Success you need to be an expert at implementing PRINCE2 Risk and Issue Management.