Dealing with Programmatic Risks…Such as Hurricanes

Every project has its own certain levels of certain risks; risks that are analyzed and identified from the beginning of a project or during the development and submission phases. However, each project also comes with a number of uncertain risks, or even risks that project managers have no control over. Some of these uncontrollable and uncertain risks are related to weather. How many projects do you think are now suffering from a decrease in productivity due to Hurricane Sandy?

Dealing with risk management is a crucial step in every project. Project managers could spend all day putting together a risk management plan for risks that are both certain and uncertain. The truth is, project managers can’t devise a risk management plan for every risk that could occur. However, they can identify where these risks could occur. For example, each project has its own set of programmatic risks, which are basically those risks that affect project direction, but also fall outside of the project manager’s control.

Furthermore, programmatic risks also deal a lot with uncertain risks, or risks that involve environmental impacts. These could include breakdowns in communication, labor strikes, or severe, inclement weather. For example, Hurricane Sandy was a programmatic risk that many project managers face right now. Of course project managers at the start of their projects probably did not bet that a category three hurricane would put a halt to productivity or maybe even risk deadlines or project completion. This is a clear example of a risk that is out of the project manager’s, and even the organization’s, level of control.

So what can project managers do about uncertain programmatic risks?

Of course project managers at the start of their projects could not predict earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, or blizzards that could result in closed offices or interruptions in communication. However, if project managers could be aware of the possibility of these environmental impacts, then perhaps schedule adjustments could be made in advance in order to accommodate the drop in productivity or the breach in deadlines. This could be as simple as messaging or emailing team members to have a back up plan in order in the event inclement weather is predicted. This will give team members the chance to tie up any loose ends, adjust schedules and deadlines as necessary and as possible, and just be ready for the impact.

Again, project managers should not waste valuable time in drafting risk management plans at the beginning of each project to include the likelihood of a hurricane. A big part of designing a risk management plan not only includes identifying the risk, but also analyzing the impact or probability of a particular risk occurring. For example, project managers that took on new projects a week ago could easily factor in the hurricane as a certain risk to the project, because it was a real possibility at the time.

In conclusion, every project comes long with its own set of risks that can be analyzed and identified by the five facets of risk management. Designing an effective risk management plan in the beginning is one sure way to make sure your projects go smoothly. In the future, how can you hurricane proof your projects?

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