Project Management for R&D

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Risk management and mitigation

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At the outset of a project, it is vital that all participants feel enthusiastic about the work ahead. Nobody wants to spoil the enthusiasm and be known as a pessimist or prophet of doom. This state of mind often leads to the suppression and concealment of significant risks.

 

History has shown that a united and high-performance team also is prepared to take significant risks. Therefore, a balance is required to ensure that the team is aware of the risks and that appropriate measures are taken to eliminate and manage them.

 

Therefore, risk management must be developed into a forum where risks are brought to the fore and criticism encouraged — actively trying to find the flaws in your project definition and plans.

 

By mitigating the project's risk level, the capacity and ability to manage remaining risks are significantly increased.

 

Risk management contains the following three sub-elements that are described in more depth below:

  • identify and evaluate risk – the risk log

  • formulate measures and actions for reducing the most significant risks – the mitigation plan

  • implement the measures and actions into your project and update all project plans  

 

Risk management must cover all aspects and dimensions within your project.

 

 Step 1. Stakeholders and organization

Go to your Project Definition template. Review the stakeholders of your project and respective roles, responsibilities, and powers of authority:

  • customer

  • sponsor

  • steering committee

  • core team

  • extended team & other people.

 

Write down one or two significant risks the team can identify on small rectangular sticky notes. Move the sticky notes to the Control and Follow-Up template.

 

Step 2. Business case

Review your business case. Write down one or two significant risks the team can identify. Move the sticky notes to the Control and Follow-Up template.

 

Step 3 Boundaries

Review the boundaries.  Write down one or two significant risks the team can identify. Move the sticky notes to the Control and Follow-Up template.

 

Step 4 Dimensions

Go to your Overall project plan board. Review each dimension separately. Write down one or two significant risks in each dimension. Move the sticky notes to the Control and Follow-Up template.

Step 5 Stages

Review how you have divided the project into stages:

  • Do you have the proper stages to make the project agile?

  • Have you incorporated milestones so that a complete Deming circle (Plan-Do-Check-Act) will be completed in each stage?

  • Will your setup encourage involvement from the sponsor and steering committee early on in the project?

 

Write down one or two significant risks. Move the sticky notes to the Control and Follow-Up template.

 

Step 6 Estimates and detail plans

Review the rest of the Overall project plan template. Write down one or two significant risks in each dimension. Move the sticky notes to the Control and Follow-Up template.

Step 7 Game rules and team flower

Go to your Project control and follow-up template. Review your Game rules, Team flower, and Change management process. Write down one or two significant risks.

Step 8 Other risks

Brainstorm and write down any other significant risks that come to your mind. Have you experience from other projects that need to be discussed or taken into consideration.

 

Step 9 Evaluate risks

Place your identified risks in the risk evaluation matrix. Each square can contain up to six risks – rectangular notes smallest size. If the upper right corner gets full, discuss and prioritize. When you are ready, a maximum of six risks shall remain in any square

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Top three risks that need to be mitigated.

Duplicate and move to Risk mitigation.

Step 10 Risk mitigation

Duplicate the top three risks from the upper right corner in your risk evaluation matrix and place them in the Risk mitigation top 3 section. Change the size of the duplicated notes to Medium.

 

Develop and write down actions and measures to mitigate the risk. Try to use both strategies:

  • reduce the probability

  • reduce the severity.

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Step 11 Implementation

Update respective boards to make sure that the actions and measures are integrated into your project.