Association for Project Management
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The foundation of a project: How do you set a project off on the right track?

Projects are happening all the time across the world. Delivering any project successfully – regardless of size, cost or nature – means it must be built with the right foundation. Effective risk management plays an important part and is necessary for a successful project.

Estelle Detrembleur is Associate Director at Mace, with over 20 years’ experience working with project-driving initiatives; predominantly within the area of environment and technology.

We spoke with her about some of the most important considerations when attempting to manage risk at the start of a project:

  • What are the risk management expectations? Client and stakeholders’ expectations need to be considered as early as possible in the project management life cycle. Risk management expectations depend on the complexity of the project as well as the level of risk management requirements for the project. Consider whether this affects governance and the management plans (i.e. do you need a risk executive committee or other committees to assist in reviewing the risks on the projects), as well as how often risks are reviewed at what level and how they are reported.
  • What do you know about risk and is there capability within the team? Establish the risk culture from top down and bottom up and train your team to have a risk management approach. Risk management is not for everyone, so find those that like it.
  • Do you have the resources? As risk management matures throughout the project, skill set and resources evolve. Prepare a resource plan against the schedule. Develop a training programme and find a risk champion to support team members during the delivery of the programme.
  • What are the project objectives, risk appetite and tolerance? The objectives of the project or programme are linked with the three main project risk types: cost, schedule and performance. When talking about risk appetite and tolerance, it’s important to understand the amount of risk the project or programme is willing to accept to achieve its objectives; this is the risk appetite. The risk tolerance is the acceptable deviation from the project or programme risk appetite.

Project professionals need to manage risk considerations at the beginning to support the project plans and objectives, such as understanding the risk management principles and processes.

Estelle is a committee member of APM’s Specific Interest Group (SIG) on Risk and is also an accredited Risk Practitioner through APM. If risk management is your specialism or an area you’d like to learn more about, you can follow or volunteer with APM’s Risk SIG.

You can read about the different categories of risk management, the risk processes and access additional risk resources on APM’s What is risk management? page.


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