Risk Management Focuses On 2 Fundamental Questions, What Are They?

Julie McKeon

Learn to use a risk breakdown structure to identify potential risks Let’s first start off with some honesty: I am no expert at risk management …

Learn to use a risk breakdown structure to identify potential risks

Let’s first start off with some honesty: I am no expert at risk management from a project management perspective.

Before I joined CornerStone Dynamics, I had the opportunity to get my feet wet learning basic project coordination at VTR Inc., Canada’s largest parts feeder company.

It was a fascinating world I was learning, especially being the only female employee. I’m not sure what it is (maybe I am more aware now) but lately I have heard a lot of buzz around ‘being mentored’.  Lucky for me, my hard work started paying off.  Two executives took me under their wing and at that point my journey began as I was directly dealing with customers, communicating with project managers and working directly with our manufacturing team to ensure project success. RiskEverything seemed seamless and easy. I wanted more.

I arrived at VTR as an assistant and come out as a seasoned young professional ready to colour the world while carving my own path.

Little did I know ‘risk management’ would burst my bubble. I will expand on this later.

Here we are now, 10 months later and I have been introduced to ‘project management’ at CornerStone Dynamics and learning how to manage projects by the book.

Luckily or unlucky for me (whichever way you look at it) I have had the opportunity to learn from two of the best project managers who have obtained their PMP designation. Their level of knowledge and detail for project management is far more than I had ever envisioned. Sometimes it’s over my head and literally makes my head spin – in a good way.  We’re a generation that is drowning in information but starved for knowledge.

Can you relate?

As a young professional in a consulting environment I often find myself sitting in on meetings where my wheels are constantly turning trying to decipher which way a project is heading and only understanding three quarters of the terminology being used.

However, that doesn’t stop my thirst for more. Recently I approached our President, Adriana Girdler and expressed my desire to project manage an internal project. She happily agreed and we discussed expectations, timelines, project plans and more.

My moment had come – I was finally going to get to manage my very own project. Later that day I worked busily trying to clear off my plate to make room and prepare for Project X – my very first project. I was excited to put together the project plan, identify the objectives, outline the product description, facilitate the kick-off meeting and get started. That Monday my plan was to meet with the project team then meet with Adriana to report project status. I met with the project team and discussed the project in further detail and gained more perspective. Then I met with Adriana. Remember when I said we would expand on risk management – okay here it is. As I was meeting with Adriana discussing project details she looks at me and says “Can you please show me your risk management plan”.

She got me, I hadn’t even thought of that!

What is a risk management plan? Why did I need a risk management plan? Is a risk management plan even necessary? These were the question popping into my head. I was caught off guard and completely unprepared. How could I have totally missed this one?

A word of warning: Risk management should be thoroughly understood by project managers. Yes, you need a risk management plan and yes, the plan is necessary. End of discussion.

What is risk? A risk is any uncertain event or condition that might affect or change the outcome of a project or its activities. At a very basic level, risk management focuses on two fundamental questions:

  1. What can go wrong?
  2. What will you do to prevent the harm from occurring?

I have learned that when you are identifying potential risks, use a ‘risk breakdown structure’ to categorize risks then decompose them into more detailed ones. My advice to you is: Plan for the unknown. Even the simplest project can run into unexpected problems.

Do any of you seasoned veterans out there have advice for us Gen Y’ers? Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, you could always write your own blog post on the subject and share it with us… We’d love to read it!

Thanks For Sharing!

1 thought on “Risk Management Focuses On 2 Fundamental Questions, What Are They?”

  1. Risk assumption and planning to manages starts from the very beginning of the project planning and two key questions mentioned in this post are key to mitigate risks. Thanks for sharing.

Comments are closed.

Photo of author

Julie McKeon was a project coordinator with CornerStone Dynamics Inc. Julie's 'What the heck' blogs explore the editorial calendar from a new-comer’s perspective.

SLAY Project Management

Online Course

5 Sections and 24 step-by-step HOW TO Videos! The only 5-hour on-line course that teaches you the PRACTICAL side of project management. This course will guide you step-by-step on HOW to successfully run a project and provides you with all the templates and tips you need to be successful.

Fab 5 Fundamentals

Free Training

Are you striving for successful projects, but get overwhelmed figuring out what elements of project management to focus on for the best results? In the Fab Five Fundamentals of Project Management, you’ll learn the five things you need to do on EVERY project to bring it to success.

Why Projects Fail?

Free Download

If you're new to projects or need a refresher, here's a guide of all the things I learned during my journey. Project success is about knowing how to navigate and stay clear of roadblocks, issues and problems. Understand the top 10 reasons why projects fail and how to avoid them.

Interested In Working Together?

We are business productivity experts. Contact us to learn how we can help your business become more efficient and increase profitability.

Join Our Newsletter

Join over 50,000 subscribers. Get the latest and the best in project management information delivered straight to your inbox.

Follow Us