Professional project managers ­that do more than ‘drive a Toyota HiLux!’ – know that risk management is a core element of project management and the planning process.

If a project manager does not undertake regular risk management activities and this process is not sufficiently supported by decision makers, then it may lead to problems when activities and deliverables do not go as planned.

Lack of risk attention can also result in project managers and teams spending more time dealing with issues, impacting the project even further. All of which could have been resolved in advance had the risk been appropriately identified and treated earlier.

So to rectify some of the above challenges, James Bawtree, former Director of the AIPM Board has included five strategies to help you improve your use of risk management and the likelihood of successful delivery of your projects.

Here’s 5 risk management strategies for your next project

Strategy 1 – Use a risk framework

Ensure your organisation is following a recognised risk management framework. The ISO3100-2018 is a good starting point.

It is principle based, pragmatic, widely used and is not specific to an industry or sector. This will help when a new staff or team member starts at your organisation, as there will be less of a learning curve.

Strategy 2 – Capture risk controls

Make sure risks are captured correctly. For example, using a visual diagram, such as the risk bow-tie is a great way to start.

The template from Julian Talbot provides a useful guide to the bow-tie diagram. It helps with capturing each of the core risk elements. My experience is the controls are often missed and there is often one risk event to one consequence.

Strategy 3 – Assign actions to address risk

Capturing risks is not enough, you need to do something about them. All too often, when I review or rescue programs and projects, a list of risks exists however they are often out of date and no one is assigned actions to mitigate them.

Often the steering committee and/or governance groups are not even aware of the key risks that the program or project faces. So always make sure there is an action assigned to address each risk.

Strategy 4 – Regularly review risks

Risks must be re-assessed and “residual risk” ‑ the remaining risk post the risk control ‑ updated on a regular basis. For all but small projects in your organisation, I would recommend this be undertaken on a monthly basis.

A good way to help achieve this is through a digital platform. A quality tool can help you capture, share, and discuss risk status. Project teams will know how often updates are made, plus what has changed including where risk levels are increasing in probability or impact ‑ or both, as they should be assessed independently.

Strategy 5 – Continually report on risks

Risks must be reported. So ensure each risk has an owner and a person assigned to do something about the risk.

Report on inherent risk until you are satisfied that you have sufficiently decreased the residual risk to an acceptable level. Continue reporting on both assessed and residual target acceptable risk, and who is taking responsibility.

Projects are risky by nature, however by planning ahead and proactively assessing what could go wrong with the plan, you will be able to manage any associated risks and successfully deliver your project.