While projects differ in many aspects, there are some common risks that affect all of them. It is prudent to be aware of such risks beforehand so as to be adequately prepared to best handle them when they arise.
Below are some common project risks and some possible ways to handle them:
- Staff issues
It is a fact that most of the project problems are caused by the people in the project team. Staff leaving, which could be a result of their own issues or your decision to drop them, interferes with the project by losing crucial expertise and affecting the morale of the other staff members. Also, while some staff members may not leave, they may have a very negative attitude, thus affecting their work and that of others.
What to do: You must be prepared for your team to feel discontent, as disagreements on various issues does happen. It is crucial to fairly remunerate your staff and offer other perks and benefits. For key people in the project, you may need to secure their position to the end by having a word with their line manager; to ensure their commitment, this manager may offer them bonuses and other incentives to retain them.
- Unavailable resources or shortage of resources
All projects can suffer a lack of resources or inadequate resources, which can have adverse effects. For example, manufacturing may have to be halted due to a shortage of some resources due to natural disasters affecting the feeder industry. Also, you may find the facilities or equipment that you intended to use in the project have been hired or taken by someone else.
What to do: It is crucial to have in mind all the resources you need in the project and to have some idea of how you can cope if they became unavailable. You can secure yourself by having alternative suppliers or sources of the resources. Regarding human labor, you can cross-train your team to have several skills, thus enabling them to stand in for each other. You can further avoid interruptions by having in place a good system and engaging experts in project management, such as GRS consultants, who can help to foresee any possible resource issues and take necessary preventive measures.
- Poor leadership
It is common for project leadership to be excited at the conception and inception stages of the project, but later become less interested or a bit unconcerned with the project. The leaders possibly realize that the project is more demanding than they thought, and are too ready and willing to delegate their responsibilities to other team members.
What to do: From the onset, you need to get a committed project management leadership team and expressly inform them that their commitment and involvement in the project is required. Also, make sure the leadership team is well supported and that their concerns are addressed. Additionally, be aware of any tell-tale signs of diminishing commitment, and have a talk with the management team leaders, which can help to avoid a bigger problem.
There are other risks, like the change of business strategy, that may affect the project. The best way to handle all risks is to do a risk analysis and identification, and then think of possible preventive measures. Maintain all those risks in your risk log, which you can keep updating or reviewing as time passes and the project changes.