Voices on Project Management

> Back to Voices Home

5 Overlooked Project Risks

| | Comments (4)
Experienced project managers frequently encounter common project risks, such as lack of available resources or slipped deliverable dates.

But what about those risks that people don't often think of? While often overlooked, these risks might be more real than you think and can often reveal other project challenges.

Here are five unusual, but real, risks that I've heard from project teams. If yours ever brings one up, don't be so quick to dismiss it.

1. Weather
The first phase of a software solution deployment targeted several cities with a generally temperate climate. The project team reported a risk of weather delays and asked for a two-week schedule contingency, which was greeted with laughter and objection by the steering committee. Sure enough, the deployment cities experienced their first snowstorm in decades, which resulted in delayed deployment--as predicted. Future deployment planning included a contingency for weather-related changes.

2. Video conferencing capacity
A project team presented a report showing it was behind schedule. Team members blamed a lack of robust video conferencing capability, which the steering committee responded to with shocked silence. After the meeting, the project manager discovered that the original project plan did not consider the risk of requiring frequent communications to coordinate development at multiple sites. Identifying it as problem not only fixed the issue, but it led to resolving additional communications issues.

3. Lack of project experience
One project team declared that its own project manager was a risk because he didn't have any experience leading projects. As a short-term solution, a senior team member was asked to assist the project manager. Examining this risk further revealed that there were several staffing challenges, including replacing the senior team member assisting the project manager. Had the project manager not been identified as a risk in the first place, they never would have recognized resourcing issues.

4. Vacations and holidays  
A project team with limited global deployment experience scheduled a European deployment milestone during the month of August. It later reported a risk of difficulties finding local resources to help with deployment due to vacations. After realizing that August is typically a vacation month for Europe, the steering committee not only approved a schedule change, but it also examined the vacations and holidays of the other countries on the deployment schedule. Based on this input, the project team adjusted the schedule and successfully achieved the remaining milestones.

5. Termites
One project team declared termites as a project schedule risk. After the steering committee brushed off the need for insecticide, the team shared that termites had chewed through the supports of a mobile office trailer. The damage caused the trailer to be declared unsafe and prompted an unscheduled office move. Moreover, the team members also revealed that they were working in separate mobile trailers, which hampered productivity. Thanks to the initial schedule impact, the project team was relocated to contiguous indoor office space and increased productivity.

Have you ever overlooked any risks? What were they?

 

Bookmark and Share

 

The views expressed within the PMI Voices on Project Management blog are contributed from external sources and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of PMI.

Leave a comment

All comments are reviewed by our moderators, and will not appear on this blog unless they have been approved. Comments that do not relate directly to the blog entry's contents, are commercial in nature, contain objectionable or inappropriate material, or otherwise violate our User Agreement or Privacy Policy, will not be approved. For general inquiries not related to this blog, please contact Customer Service. Please read the Comments -- Question and Answers.

4 Comments

Hi PM Hut...thanks for the commentary. I also had a few insights around resource management that didn't make the top 5 in the blog...:( but resource management continues to be a major risk to mitigate.

For some of the event-driven situations you mention I opt for a few resource planning techniques:

+ Cross-training where possible

+ Succession/backup resource selection

+ Staffing to 110% of planned resources

In addition from a work scheduling standpoint, I also build in staffing time at the front of the project. If you don't build this time into the project plan one finds themselves already several weeks late...

Thanks again for the great comments...

Hi Mounir...thanks for the review and your comment...

I have a lot of discussions around to what degree weather should be a definitive risk or just let it become a force majuer item. To some degree I think it depends on the geographic factors for the project. In more temperate areas this is less of a concern...but more so in other areas where hurricanes, snow fall , etc plays a factor...but not volcanos!

You did hit on one of my motivations for publishing this list...to get project managers to be seeking at a deeper level risks that affect their projects...

Thanks again for the commentary...

How about the following for project risks:

- Marriage
- Pregnancy (this has effect only for lengthy projects)
- Resignation

How many project managers account for the above in their resource management plan/risk management plan?

Thank you for this article but i do have a few issues with it - maybe semantics but none-the-less.

1. Weather - you mentioned "deployment cities experienced their first snowstorm in decades" ... (a) i do not understand how snowstorms have sever impact on software development and (b) when situations like this happen "in decades" these we treat as force majeure and typically do not include in risk management.

2. Also most of these "risks" are written leading me to think that they were incidents / problems discovered after the fact and not identified as risks.

3. Some of the above are failures in term of project management and planning, like ignoring holidays

About This Blog

Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with — or even disagree with — leave a comment.

All posts represent the opinions of the bloggers.

Follow PMvoices on Twitter

About Bloggers

Keep checking back because the voices for this blog will continue to grow and change to represent a variety of regions, industries and opinions.

Read blogger profiles

Voices Poll

Categories