Friday, 26 September 2014

The Impact of Ineffective Project Management on Project Risks

It’s well known that ineffective project management can cost projects dearly.  Over my many years of working with Government Defence organisations and contractors, I have worked with a variety of Project Managers, some good, some bad.  Something that most Project Managers are very good at doing is identifying risks and understanding how to cope with the eventuality that sometimes, worst case scenarios happen.

What Project Managers never ever plan for is the risk of, well, bad project management.  Planning contingencies for your own pitfalls is a difficult planning activity indeed - something that even the most self-enlightened individuals would have a job to fulfil.

It’s a question of perspective . . .
If we take the ethos from the Wanda Curlee and Robert L. Gordon publication ‘Complexity Theory and Project Management’, it’s clear that effective project planning and management is more than just a list of activities.  Juggling lengthy decision making processes, promoting flexibility and creativeness whilst, at the same time, maintaining structure and prioritising despite unpredictable workflows can be difficult.  It’s easy to see why so many competent, educated and experienced managers occasionally get it so wrong.

So whilst you may be thinking, ‘who in their right mind would put themselves in a Risk Register?’  It may be worth noting the words of Albert Einstein: “Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.”
Many of the project managers I have worked with are from a technical background and have found themselves in a ‘project management’ position through technical excellence rather than a wealth of experience managing projects.  I often wonder what could be achieved with a better understanding of one’s own weaknesses and how, in risk management terms, these can be avoided.

So how do we become more self-aware when assessing and managing risks?

·                 Assess your entire team: You are part of the team, identify your own ability to support the project at the early stages

·         Don’t underestimate your own time: Up to 20% of total project delivery timeframe is spent managing the project.  Schedule the right amount of time to Project Management and ensure this is factored into the overall project plan.  Give yourself the required time to manage the project effectively and set expectations of that time requirement.

·         Don’t overestimate your own ability:  Are you confident that your own training and experience places you at the right level to manage your current project?  Again, many Project Managers are placed due to their technical expertise and ability to deliver high quality.  Does your level of project management capability match your technical knowledge?

·         Don’t learn ‘on the job’: Don’t use your project as a ‘Learning Curve’ which will ultimately lead to delays and cost overrun.  Ensure you have the time, skills and commitment to ensure project success prior to commissioning your project.

·         De-risk yourself with training: Perhaps the most obvious practical solution.  Project Management training is a sure fire way of ensuring you do not become your projects biggest invisible risk.

As painful (and seemingly ridiculous) as it is to admit that you may be a risk to your own project, it makes perfect sense to identify that risk and manage it accordingly, as with any other logical process within your Project Management procedure.

For more information on how to accelerate your Project Management capability visit 

1 comment:

  1. Honestly felt attacked by your comment on how Project managers prepare for every possible risk except the risk of their own bad project management. (haha) Thank you, excellent work!