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What is a Risk Management Plan?

Need a risk management plan for an information management project and want some practical suggestions to ensure rapid project delivery?

A risk management plan defines the process that will be followed toRisk Management Plan identify and resolve project risks.

What is a risk?

Risks are events, which, if they occur, may have a positive or negative impact on the project objectives

What is an issue?

Issues are risk events or risks, which have occurred, and require resolution to minimize the impact to project objectives.

Suppose you are planning a vacation. You are going to fly to the west coast, rent a car for two weeks, travel a bit and then return. You heard that your airline might go on strike. This is a risk! You know that it might happen and you now have a chance to mitigate the risk.

You might decide to minimize the risk by investigating train schedules, or other airlines, or car rentals. If a strike occurs, you can still go and achieve your objectives of having a good vacation.

Now suppose you fly to the west coast as planned and the airline goes on strike before you can return.  You now have an issue that you must resolve.

So how do we manage risk?

A good risk manager will be constantly aware of project risks that might occur and will attempt to have a mitigation strategy ready in the event that the risk becomes an issue.

What should we document in a risk management plan?
  • Which member of the team will manage and update issues and risks;
  • The frequency of which risks and issues will be reviewed (at least once per phase);
  • Where the risk & issues Log will be stored; and
  • The escalation path for resolving a risk.
The risk manager will ensure that all risks are reviewed and mitigated before they become an issue

What are risk/issue categories?

Information management projects usually classify risks and issues in the following categories:

Technical risks/issues include things like:
  • New technology, the project team learning curve may be longer than expected;
  • Technology changes, the solution is planned for one set of technology and it changes part way thru the project; and
  • Process, the team is not fully versed in the process or it may change causing issues.
Project management risks/issues include thinks like:
  • Resource allocation, a project resource is over committed and may miss milestones;
  • Scope change, may require project plan change and losing committed resources to other projects;
  • Requirements traceability, a missed requirement was only discovered during development or QA testing;
  • Methodology, business owner and IT sponsor cannot agree on managed exceptions to approved software development lifecycle;
  • Tools, a critical tool may be down for an extended period, e.g. documentation repository, metadata repository, or access was not requested in time and there is a waiting period to have the access request approved; and
  • Team experience, lack of experience on process, methodology or tools may cause delays.
Organizational, risks/issues include things like:
  • Financial projections and level of effort, team may provide inaccurate estimates which impact budget;
  • Project independence, other projects may get higher priority for key resources leaving a project gap; and
  • Economy, may dictate reduced resource levels.
External, risks/issues include things like:
  • Contractors may not produce as expected and contractor change is required part way thru the project;
  • Regulatory changes may change priorities and cause rework; and
  • Vendor-vendor relations may impact project communications.
Before you return, remember…
  • Risks are events, which, if they occur, may have a positive or negative impact on the project objectives; and
  • Issues are risk events or risks, which have occurred and require resolution to minimize the impact to project objectives.
A good risk management plan will ensure that all risks are reviewed and mitigated before they become an issue.

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