When starting a new project, many people make the mistake of not only defining the wrong goals, but also don’t analyze the potential outcome. It’s understandable, since it’s much more exciting and rewarding to go and start implementing a cool project than talk about what could happen. However, it’s much wiser to fully understand what can happen in case something goes wrong. A person that took the time to do the exercise will take all the necessary precautions to prevent bad things from happening.
In Quebec, we have what is called the RRSP season. Most people visit their bank and talk to their financial advisor regarding retirement investments. A good financial advisor will take the time to ask a few questions that will help them identify their ability to take risks. For example, a few month ago, I wanted to make an important personal investment. Before suggesting a solution, my advisor asked me: “What happens if you lose all this money? How will you feel? Will it be the end of the world?” Today, I am glad I haven’t invested in gold back then. For those who are not aware, gold lost about 44% of its value since September 2011.
If your advisor didn’t ask you these questions, I suggest that you move all your investments elsewhere. Your advisor does not have your best interest in mind.
Your IT project is an investment too, and you should threat it with the same respect. Since you and your team will spend multiple weeks discussing and implementing the project, everyone on board should see it as a personal investment. A great way to do that is to imagine all the great things you could accomplish with that time or money. You could spend that money on a vacation or invest it in your retirement plan. You could spend all that time with your family, on your favorite hobby, sport, vacation or you can spend it on this project.
Seeing it as an investment helps put things in perspective. Make sure everyone in your team understands this concept. Doing so will translate into higher commitment, higher quality, efficient solutions and shorter delivery time.
Before we move on, let’s define what is a project risk.
RISK = Potential out come ÷ ability to handle the situation.
Let’s identify the potential outcome in case of failure of your project. The main question you should answer is: What happens if I fail this project? Here are some great point to explore:
- How will this outcome affect my relationship with my boss, partners, peers?
- Will they trust me with such project in the future?
- Will they trust my judgment when I give advice?
- Will my investor be willing to give me another round of financing?
- Will the company be able to recover from this loss?
- How will this impact the company financially?
- How will this impact the company’s image and reputation?
- Will my boss lose his job, will I lose mine?
- How will I personally feel after investing all that time and energy into this project?
To help you visualize everything, I invite you to download and print my risk assessment guide. Write down all your answers in the grid. To each point, assign importance and ability to cope with the risk.
At this point, I assume that you already defined your goals according to my previous article: Is your project a success? If you haven’t done so, take the time to do it now. This is crucial for the success of your project.
Print your project’s objectives, potential outcome in case of success and potential outcome in case of failure. Put them side by side. Take the time to fully understand the implications.
These documents are the cornerstone of you project. Keep them close to evaluate the success of your project and use them as motivators.
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Stay tuned for more upcoming insight on identifying project threats and establishing safeguards for the success of your project.