A large portion of learning comes from the past experiences. In fact, negative past experiences can be at times more helpful than the positive ones. At the same time, it is highly impractical to allow the same negative experience to happen two or more times. That is why risk assessment and management are conducted by organizations attempting to increase their cost-effectiveness and avoid making mistakes or experiencing troubles that would affect their productivity and profitability.
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Risk in projects
The risk is present in any project – its outcome is always partially unpredictable and involves certain issues that need addressing (Kendrick, 2015). GU Project relies on the use of the latest technologies and several different groups of stakeholders. That is why the risks of this project are connected to the high variability of the project and the implementation of change that makes it difficult to evaluate the potential response of all the parties involved.
Moreover, the projects that rely on new technologies can be challenging because they are connected to aggressive and rapid change. As a result, the assessment and evaluation of risk are necessary throughout the course of the project. The management of risk involves several major steps such as the project planning, risk identification, assessment and evaluation, response to the risks identified, and the control (Rawi, 2014). That way, the primary goals of the risk management process is not only to minimize or eliminate the likeliness of the risk occurrence but also to compensate the impact of the negative effects and circumstances via the emphasis of the positive impacts (Stanleigh, n. d.).
Methods of risk assessment
There are multiple ways to assess risk within a project. It is up to the project managers to select a technique they deem the most appropriate and useful in terms of the reliability, validity, precision, and depth of the data collected during the evaluation. Questionnaires and surveys are recognized as one of the most widely applied techniques for risk assessment. One of its most valuable advantages is that it is highly flexible and can be customized for any type of project and collect any kind of data (National Research Council, 2005).
The forms of surveys and questionnaires can be very different and so can be their implementation; for example, they can be delivered in a form of multiple response questionnaires, assessments based on spreadsheets, they can contain open-end questions for qualitative assessment or multiple-choice questions for the controlled data collection (Kendrick, 2015).
Besides, they can be delivered individually on paper and then turned in by the respondents, or they can be conducted electronically for the processing of the information using versatile computer systems and tests. Surveys and questionnaires are frequently used by many organizations. Another benefit is that there are many existing types of questionnaires that have been developed previously so searching for a form of assessment to apply, the project managers may easily locate the questionnaires designed specifically for the types of projects similar to their own. In this case, such questionnaire would require very little adaptation or not require it at all (Kendrick, 2015).
Tips to pay attention to
Developing a project risk assessment, it is important to keep in mind that the number of questions should not be too large, and only the most necessary and important questions are included. Otherwise, the questionnaire is likely to face such challenges as the lack of the respondents’ integrity and devotion (because they can simply become bored by the lengthy list of questions); also, questionnaires with multiple questions are not easy to process because they provide a lot of fragmented and diverse data so precise threats become more difficult to identify (Kendrick, 2015).
Moreover, in multiple response questions, it is crucial to provide a limited number of options for each question to keep the response results focused. This approach will help the analysts to process the data easier and faster. The set of questions needs to be discussed and reviewed by several different groups of professionals in order to highlight all the possible risk areas. Otherwise, some of the potential threats may remain overlooked or miscommunicated. It is critical for the risk assessment to involve questions focusing on all aspects of the project in order to identify the largest number of issues and address them.
When it comes to the GU Project, it would make sense that the survey targets two different groups of the stakeholders – the learners and the educators. These groups are the end-users of the project, and they are affected by the change the most. However, since the two groups of users have rather different needs and interests, the questions have to be adjusted specifically to evaluate the perspectives of both in the most appropriate ways.
All in all, some of the questions could remain the same, and some could target the specific groups. Also, the questions should be mixed (some multiple choice questions and some open end questions). This approach would help to identify the potential areas of risks anticipated by the managers and also reveal some new risks that could have been overlooked previously.
Emond (2009) mentions that some of the general questions to identify versatile risks could be “do you have any concerns about the project?” or “what potential challenges may arise during the course of the project?”. Below is an example of the questionnaire for the projects targeting the end-users’ perspective on it.
GU Project questionnaire
- Do you have any concerns about the project?
- What potential challenges may arise during the course of the project?
- Have you already faced any issues? Please name them.
- Which aspects of the project do you find the most difficult?
- Use of technologies
- Time management
- Do you know any people who have struggled to adopt the changes enforced by the project? Who are they?
- What is the best way to resolve the issues?
- Reverse the change
- Provide additional training
- Keep the change but reform it
- How do you evaluate the change enforced by the project
- No change at all
I could be helpful to implement a pilot survey prior to the main one. In other words, the managers could first put the survey into practice using a small group of test respondents and then collect their responses and try to process them. It is possible that this method could help the risk managers to identify some flaws of the questionnaire that they had not noticed previously. That way, the project risk strategy could be applied on a local level to the questionnaire designed to assess the risks.
Emond, C. (2009). Project Risk Management in 12 Questions. Web.
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Kendrick, T. (2015). Identifying and managing project risk: Essential tools for failure-proofing your project. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
National Research Council. (2005). The Owner’s Role in Project Risk Management. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Rawi, R. (2014). Project Risk Identification for New Project Manager. Web.
Stanleigh, M. (n. d.). Risk Management…the What, Why, and How. Web.