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Project Management Risks and Strategies to Mitigate Risk

19th Feb, 2024
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    Project Management Risks and Strategies to Mitigate Risk

    There is no such thing as a risk-free company or objective in the world; each aim has its own set of hazards that must be overcome. The greatest risk that any project manager will encounter is trying to complete any project without considering risk assessment and preparing adequately.

    Any project manager must consider the risk elements during the planning stage. And each team member needs to increase their expertise in this area to create risk-reduction solutions. The top Project Management certifications cover the idea of risk in their curriculum. Due to the significance of this project risk assessment, let's examine the various project management risks, as well as their mitigation strategies and methods of resolution. 

    What is Project Risk? 

    risk is an expectation that something undesirable or dangerous may occur. Project risk is the possibility that the obstacles in the project's path will prevent it from achieving its goals. Project risk, along with many other factors, must be addressed during planning to save time and money. 

    There are several confusions about the use of terminology in project management risks vs issues. The term "issue" refers to an existing hazard, whereas "risk" refers to a possible hazard that may develop in the future. 

    What is Risk Assessment in Project Management?

    Risk analysis, also known as risk assessment, recognizes the risk before the project is carried out. It is crucial to identify all potential hazards in a project to have a clear idea of where to focus your attention and to be able to talk about solutions to address the problems you've identified.  

    Each project team member must participate in the risk assessment process in addition to the project manager since each person's perspective on the risk analysis adds to the list of possible points so that a project manager may set up team meetings to identify the techniques and strategies to mitigate risk. 

    Risk Mitigation Plan and Techniques

    The process of planning and creating a list containing techniques to mitigate hazards and their effects on a project is known as risk mitigation planning. Risks are inevitable and prevalent in nearly all engineering disciplines, including the software and construction sectors. The basic goal of risk mitigation is to identify risks including performance risks, scheduling issues, and communication issues, among others, and then to design effective ways to minimize the risks. 

    Before attempting to adopt the below techniques, it is vital to research and comprehend the potential hazards in project management and their mitigation measures, which you may learn about by taking a PMP course online. There are four primary risk mitigation techniques to address project hazards such as Avoid, Reduce, Accept, and Share or Transfer. Let's examine each one. 

    1. Avoiding Risk 

    Avoidance of risk is a tactic for switching up your approach to dealing with a problem. This method assists the project team in avoiding budget, performance, and communication risks. Using the risk avoidance approach, a project manager in the planning stage sorts out all potential hazards and plans accordingly to avoid them.   

    2. Reducing or Controlling risk 

    Reducing risk is a strategy for mitigating the effects of a risky situation by taking the required precautions. Certain risks cannot be avoided, but their influence on the project can only be reduced to an insignificant level. After determining the acceptable possible risks, the project team develops several solutions to limit or eliminate the risk's impact. 

    3. Accept or Assume risk 

    Accept risk is a technique in which the project team recognizes an inevitable risk and its potential influence on the project or business but cannot take the required steps to reduce it. As a result, the project manager or business eventually intends to raise the budget to cover the expenditures or losses incurred. 

    4. Share or Transferring of risk 

    The project manager and his team evaluate risks and outsource the crucial piece that is time-consuming or requires expertise to address a specific risk. For example, imagine we are intending to build a skyscraper where it is required to give health and life insurance to every worker who is doing work at heights and conducting dangerous activities. Several agencies offer insurance and monitor claims thus, risk transfer can be used here to alleviate the strain. 

    Types of Project Management Risks and Mitigation

    Every activity and process in our world carries some risk, and project management is no exception. Many hazards are identified during the planning stage. Additionally, it is necessary to schedule meetings and take the necessary precautions to reduce any identified risks. With the PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner certification, you may master these techniques for planning, managing, and closing projects. 

    Let's look at a few types of risks in project management and how to handle them: 

    1. Scope Creep

    Scope risk or scope creep is caused mostly by a communication breakdown between stakeholders and project managers, in which the project's aim or scope is not properly stated or recorded. As a result, the entire project may be vitiated. It can also happen because the project manager did not understand the project from the client's perspective, which may need modifications in project management at the intermediate level to satisfy the boss or client.

    Even after having a defined project scope, project teams may make adjustments in the real process to impress their supervisor or customer, which may result in extra effort, money, and failure to meet the project's true scope. 

    How to Manage: 

    To avoid scope creep, it is critical to compile a detailed copy outlining the client's vision and project scope with the signatories. After reviewing the client's specifications, organize a meeting with stakeholders to clarify what you will offer and any potential add-ons with the intended outcome. 

    Then, it is also preferable to talk about the future. Only little scope creep on the part of the customer is acceptable, but major alterations impact the project's overall cost and timeframe. To avoid scope risks, such items should be addressed in agreements. 

    2. Budget Creep

    Budget creep is when expenses exceed the initial spending caps set during project planning. It occurs as a result of failing to foresee price fluctuations in the market. Budget risk can also develop due to insufficient analysis of material and labor costs, calculation mistakes, and failure to analyze or overlook certain expenses while budgeting.  

    Budget creep occurs when there is a delay between the time a budget is determined and when materials must be purchased because of changes in market pricing. 

    How to Manage:

    It is preferable to keep track of previous price changes throughout budgeting projects to eventually calculate and take into account future price swings. Avoid delaying your material purchases since, occasionally raw materials may run short and force you to make expensive substitutions. 

    Periodically review the way the money is being used and keep detailed records. Avoid using cheap materials and unskilled labor to save money since this leads to poor project quality and higher costs. 

    3. Communication Issues

    Project management depends heavily on communication since unclear communication from the customer to the project manager and poor communication from the manager to the team members lead to subpar results. By scheduling irregular meetings, ignoring daily reports, and ignoring crucial emails or other messaging applications, these issues are further made worse. 

    How to Manage:

    To bridge communication gaps among the project team, use modern communication technologies. Everyone involved in the project must have access to the same information. Developing communication skills also helps to handle communication challenges. Preparing daily project reports allows project management to observe how the project is progressing, and a project manager can then plan or schedule meetings to convey the progress to the team personnel. 

    4. Lack of Clarity

    Clients may skip critical details when delivering their list of required objectives of the project, which causes the project team to lack clarity when implementing the plan. The project team experiences the same problem, and a lack of openness contributes to their lack of clarity. This kind of risk also involves incorrect budgeting and failing to specify the precise timeframe. 

    How to Manage: 

    At the beginning of the project, fix any inaccuracies in the scope description and inform the buyer and team members. Utilize a single, central communication device to link each team member, ensure that everyone uses it for communication, and record it for future use. Define each project management stage and record it for future use. 

    5. Poor Scheduling  

    The risk associated with project scheduling occurs when work is delayed, and the final product is submitted later than expected because of improper planning or scheduling. Due to the bad scheduling, costs rise, and business timeliness suffers as customers lose trust in the company. Additionally, it has an effect on performance because of the impending deadlines and the small amount of time remaining to complete the assignment, which leads to poor work quality.  

    How to Manage: 

    Using PMS (Project Management Software) makes it easier to manage project schedules by keeping track of the number of team members and their roles, work locations, and hours. There are scheduling software solutions that aid with critical path, project cost, and project duration estimation. 

    6. Performance Risk

    When a project doesn't perform as anticipated during the planning stage owing to various individual performance reasons, there is a risk of failure. The individual performance of the team manager or any member of the team also has an impact on the overall performance of the project. 

    How to Manage:

    To improve project management abilities and ultimately the project's performance, a project manager should encourage himself and his team members to get KnowledgeHut's training in project management. 

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    Other Significant Project Management Risks

    1. Governance Risk 

    The effectiveness of the board of directors and management, who guide the company and make decisions, is correlated with governance risk. This risk is also connected to the business's ethics and image, key factors in luring customers.  

    Examples of effective governance include selecting the right outsourcing companies for certain important tasks and recognizing risks before generating insurance policies to cover such risks. 

    2. Strategic Risk 

    Errors in strategies used to complete any project give rise to strategic risk. Some strategic blunders include failing to adapt to technology development, confusing judgments, poor communications, and using outdated processing techniques. 

    Management must transfer the acceptable risk to a qualified contractual agency to mitigate strategic risk. Using new technology effectively reduces strategic chances. Before being delegated the plans to subordinates, Board decisions must be reviewed. 

    3. Operational Risk 

    Operational risk is associated with poor choices when creating process maps and processing project management tasks. It also includes inadequate strategy and procedural implementation. 

    4. Market Risk 

    Market risk includes hazards associated with price fluctuations, raw material shortages, increases in loan interest rates, and stock market ups and downs. Even business rivals and their tactics will have an impact on project management. 

    To manage market risk, assess market changes, and devise appropriate tactics. Financial techniques aid in the reduction of market risk in project management. 

    5. External Hazard Risk 

    Risks like earthquakes, floods, and climate catastrophes are examples of external hazards. The Covid pandemic problem, which affected several projects worldwide, is the most recent and finest illustration of this sort of risk.  

    External Risks are inherent risks, but the project manager must consider their potential effects and plan appropriately by raising the budget, implementing the work-from-home idea, and outsourcing the activities. 

    6. Project Deferral Risk 

    A situation where the entire project is put on hold because tasks were not completed in a timely manner might be categorized as a project deferral risk. It may sometimes be necessary to restart the project to eliminate previously committed errors. 

    The project's failure might have a variety of causes, including external risks that could have an impact at some point. To reduce the chance of a project being delayed, it is preferable to correct faults at all stages and double-check before going on to the next phase. 

    Risk Management in Different Industries

    1. Risk Management in Software Project Management

    For every area of the project to be completed successfully, including software engineering, risk management in project management is a key idea. Software risk management involves a set of actions. Here are several observations: 

    • Risk Identification 
    • Risk Analysis 
    • Risk Mitigation 
    • Risk Monitoring 

    Risk Identification:  

    The first step in managing a software project is to identify the issue since, without doing so, further action cannot be taken. List out all potential risks that might arise during the creation of any new software and classify them according to their severity using the project process report from a prior project. 

    To ensure that everyone on the team can easily do their unique jobs, the risks identified must remain available to them. 

    Risk Analysis: 

    Now that you have a thorough list of potential hazards that might affect software project management, it's time to examine each risk and how it can affect the software development process. Analyzing how the project's influence will affect its result is also advisable.  

    Software project risk analysis aids in team leader decision-making. If a hazard has a large and inevitable influence on the project's production, the project manager will eventually raise funding to address it. It also helps to assign duties for risk management to team members based on the severity of the risk and their respective abilities. 

    Risk Mitigation: 

    A plan of action for managing the risk element of a software development project or its process is known as risk mitigation. There are four mitigation strategies to deal with different threats; let's examine them below. 

    1. Avoid: When developing software projects, avoid hazardous procedures and actions and ultimately locate the appropriate one. 
    2. Assume or accept: Some risks must be acknowledged and present throughout the project management process. These risks cannot be avoided; instead, you must be ready for them and allocate more money to address their effects on the program. 
    3. Reduce or control: Certain dangers cannot be eliminated, just reduced or controlled in terms of how they affect software programs. 
    4. Share or Transfer: Some project components cannot be completed by your team, such as the development of specialized software, which may require expertise. This risk may be outsourced to outsourcing companies, who can complete the task. 

    Risk Monitoring: 

    To analyze potential hazards at each stage, risk monitoring is a crucial component of many operations in software project management. This aids in developing effective risk-mitigation strategies. A software project manager must follow all the procedures, make a list of any newly created dangers, ensure that current risks are mitigated, and assess the effects of risks on the project. 

    2. Project Management Risks in Construction

    Project management risks in construction are barriers during the building process. A construction project manager confronts several risks due to the increased labor and massive material handling. In addition, let us investigate further project management risks in the construction industry. 

    1. Governance risk: Undefined Board or management decisions.
    2. Strategic Risk: Adapting incorrect technology or complex designs to the construction process. 
    3. Operational risk: Failure to follow the processes in sequence and skipping essential phases may result in operational risk. 
    4. Market risk: Iron and cement are the two main basic materials for building projects. Daily price fluctuations and price increases will result in lower profits and a larger total budget. 
    5. External Hazard Risk: Natural catastrophes like floods, torrential downpours, and earthquakes can sometimes put a stop to a project or postpone its completion. 
    6. Delay of work by the contractors, subcontractors and outsourcing companies. 
    7. Manpower shortage. 
    8. Overrun of costs. 
    9. Unavailability of required raw materials. 

     Project Risk Management Tools 

    Every project's risk management needs specific tools to lessen the effects of the risks mentioned above on project management. Let's talk about a few of the tools available. 

    1. Risk Register: A tool for project planning and evaluating organizational risk. It is frequently used for logging risks and to prepare a catalogue. 
    2. SAPHIRE: It refers to Systems Analysis Programs for Hands-on Integrated Reliability Evaluation. It is a software tool used for statistical safety and quality control assessment. 
    3. Event chain methodology: A strategy for controlling risks and unknown factors that have an impact on project timelines. 
    4. Brainstorming: Organizing brainstorming meetings to create a strategy of defense against the hazards. 
    5. SWOT Analysis: This tool aids in assessing the project management's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. 
    6. Root cause Analysis: This tool is used to identify the underlying reasons why a risk arose and aids in problem-solving. 
    7. Time Tracking: This tool is used to monitor the project's progress in order to finish it on schedule. 
    8. Budget Tracking: This tool tracks expenditures in project management. 


    Project management risks and issues examples we have explored demonstrate how crucial it is to be aware of the risks associated with projects. With the aid of various software tools and methodologies, a project manager may simply accomplish a project. Studying project management courses would benefit learning about risk identification and reduction. Numerous issues relating to project management risks are covered by PMI certifications, including: 

    • Project management risks and assumptions 
    • Project management risks and opportunities 
    • Project management risks and dependencies 

    Any of the project management risks and the risk-mitigation techniques outlined above make it easier to recognize and deal with potentially dangerous circumstances in all engineering projects. 

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What are known risks in project management?

    Known risks are those of which the project management is fully aware of the size and the potential impact on the project. 

    2. How do you identify project risks?

    Reviewing prior project works, engaging in brainstorming, and creating a list of potential hazards can help identify several project risks. 

    3. How do you mitigate project risks?

    There are steps that need to be completed in order to address any project risk. The four key phases in mitigating any project risk are as follows: 

    • Risk Identification 
    • Risk Analysis 
    • Risk mitigating or managing. 
    • Risk monitoring 

    4. What factors make a project high risk?

    The following are the criteria that make a project extremely difficult to complete: 

    • Poor Planning 
    • Natural calamities 
    • Lack of communication 
    • Poor scope document  
    • Inexperienced project team
    • Lack of co-operation between team members

    Satish T


    Satish T writes on project management and the many approaches used in projects across different sectors. He honed his fundamental writing talents in article production after discovering that the creation of content is essential when describing any product. Satish's areas of interest are fact-finding research, Search Engine Optimization, and skill development.

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