Monday, September 12, 2011

Good Project Management is Good Risk Management

Most risks are foreseeable and responsive to thoughtful project management.

Accept only the right clients, then the right projects. Require a retainer from new clients to be credited to the last invoice. A retainer larger than the maximum anticipated WIP and Aged AR may be appropriate.

Risk reduction by any means is usually superior to any management scheme. Identify workable systems as early as possible. Stick to projects you understand and let your ability determine what you attempt. Learn from challenges with similar projects and clients. Use detailed planning to enhance understanding. Avoid unconscious execution via custom and tradition.

Clearly written agreements are essential. Agreements that are legal, effective, and achievable are even better. Define effort and actions from your perspective and performance criteria from the client’s point of view. Specify client responsibilities as well as your own. Break the scope into manageable chunks to form natural firewalls that limit how far things can go wrong. Require client approval of each critical decision before starting the next step.

Manage expectations more closely than schedule, cost, and scope. Educate the client to make better team decisions. Under promise so you can over achieve.

Ensure the right team is really available before issuing the proposal. Be cautious with inter-departmental sharing. Treat adjunct and borrowed staff at least as well as “your own” to keep them engaged. Build a reserve posse outside your usual project team to accommodate sudden demands.

Lead your people effectively and the project should follow. Value individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Be results oriented, listen well, empower, and provide clear unwavering vision and strategy. Construct mentoring opportunities around project goals. See and be seen. Visit the job site often. Experience the project first hand. Ensure safety and quality are being practiced effectively.

React to change in real time. Use evolutionary methods. Issue timely change orders (even if there is no cost) to support an iterative and incremental approach based on customer collaboration rather than contract negotiation. Test your understanding by re-planning when necessary.

Vigorously protect the most important member of the team, you. Set strict criteria to guard against your own ego and over extending yourself to take on too many challenges.

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