Customer: “Ive been doing risk analysis by hand for five years, and we finally got your program so we could do it automatically — but theres a bug in it. The answers come out differently each time.”
Tech Support: “Sir, are you aware that our program uses Monte-Carlo analysis?”
Customer: “Of course I am. Thats why I bought it.”
Tech Support: “Sir, do you know what Monte-Carlo analysis does?”
Customer: “Dont get rude with me, of course I do.”
Tech Support: “Put briefly, sir, it runs through your project several times, throwing random delays in, and at the end it averages out the results.”
Customer: “I know all that — what I want to know is why it keeps giving me different answers every time I run it.”
So. Risk. The bane of any project – all those uncertainties and unknown variables. What to do? Ignore it? Pretend everything is within controlled limits and there are no dependencies? Well, ideally yes, if you like an easy life and think that the world is a forgiving place! Try that one on with your Programme Manager and see how far you get!
So. Risk. You have to live with it and the real trick is to have in mind where things can (or are likely) to go pear shaped and how to correct things if and when they do. Crystal balls! I hear you scream and to a degree yes, you do need a sense of the mystic, but on the other hand we all deal with risk every day and manage it to greater of lesser degrees of success – the recent weather in Scotland is surely a risk but its effects were compounded by poor risk analysis (some might say complete lack of it, but hey, government’s a tricky walla and you can’t anticipate heavy snow in Scotland in winter surely?).
The point? Think ahead, second guess where things might go wrong or, perversely too right – greater success can be a risk in itself.
The table below is a summary of perceived risks for GECO. Of course its not exhaustive, nor is in intended to be. A more ambitious effort might lead us onto defining a risk register but we are not dealing with that degree of risk management here. In general, the bigger the stakes at risk, the greater the likelihood you’ll need a Risk Register – somewhere to note down what can go wrong and what you intend to do when it does. For our purposes the below is the risk assessment and acts as the register.