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When the Heat Is On
High-profile projects tend to carry more risk. Part of this is because they receive a lot of attention from the outside world. Another part is that risk tends to contribute to the notoriety of a project. For example, if you are working on developing city infrastructure, the risk involved is much greater than a software company trying to put together a program for knowledge workers. Whatever the reason, high profile project risk management is one of the greatest challenges a project manager can find herself facing.
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When You're Done Being Thorough, Be More Thorough
While your risk assessment should always be thorough, it is especially important for it to be so in a high-profile project. One way to avoid risk is to be keenly aware of the places where your project is susceptible to disaster. The first step in any risk management undertaking is performing a risk assessment. The risk assessment will determine the level and probability of risk involved in your project.
To assess the risks in a high profile project, dig a little deeper when identifying risks. Even if it appears that the risk is far-fetched in probability, create a plan to tackle it should it become a problem. Murphy's Law seems to come up in high profile projects, so be ready for anything to go wrong that can go wrong - and have a plan on how to deal with it.
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Keep Things Manageable by Having a Plan
One way to keep risk in high-profile projects manageable is by ensuring that you have a solid risk management plan in place. A good risk management plan will naturally contain your thorough risk assessment. It will also, like a project plan, have a scope and a purpose statement. It will contain a list of all risks that are identified - and solutions for solving problems when they may come up. It will contain a communication plan, so that the proper persons can be identified in case of disaster - and who should not be notified.
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Keep a Tight Lid on Things
One reason for having a communication plan in conjunction with a risk management plan is that you will be better able to control who has what information - and when. By controlling who knows about different risks, you can track down media links simply. Also, by keeping control over the risk information, you can avoid panic in cases where some large problem is very unlikely to actualize. People have a tendency to freak out when they hear the word, "risk," no matter how small the risk actually is.
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On the other hand, if your project contains a large potential problem that is very likely to occur, be responsible and report it. What may be an acceptable risk to you and your company may be an unacceptable risk to those potentially affected. Employing good business ethics commands that you should inform those likely to be affected in a potentially unacceptable risk. Your honesty will go a long way - especially when a project has everybody's attention.
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Finally, should things go awry, don't panic. Stick to the plan. It's easier to panic when a risk actualizes in a high-profile project. Why? Because everyone's eyes are on you, and being in the public eye is stressful. This is why you perform a thorough identification, assessment and planning session for risk in high-profile projects.
Why should you not panic? Because if you've followed the advice in this article, you have a solid risk management plan in place.