It’s only a project – what could go wrong?

The answer to the question is, of course, “pretty much anything”, but fortunately that’s not the end of the story. A friend once said to me, “there’s no such thing as Project Management, only Risk Management”. I find it hard to disagree, in the sense that, at every stage of a project there are often unknowns and associated assumptions. Add to that the fact that, no matter how well you plan and prepare, the vast majority of things (and people) don’t follow the plan (for better or for worse – ‘opportunity’ or ‘threat’, in other words). This can happen for all sorts of reasons, resulting in poorer quality outcomes, delays and cost over-runs. Where I would disagree with my friend is with respect to things that have gone wrong – they’re not risks, they’re issues, and part of Project Management is about reacting to those issues and getting the project back on track. Of course, to do that, it’s important to know what to look out for in order to spot the issues, because they’re not always obvious. And then, once you’ve spotted them, the real causes and subsequent solutions may need a good dose of creativity to find. Risk Management, on the other hand, is about pro-activity, spotting the potential for error and putting plans in place to deal with them, whether that’s capitalising on the opportunities or dealing with the threats, whether that’s through immediate mitigation or contingency plans. Much of the process of initiating and planning a project is about that and should therefore be done with at least half an eye on the risks all the time. In that way, Risk Management ceases to be a separate thing (all too often either missed out completely or just done as a box-ticking exercise) and becomes an integral part of project life. So, whether you’re building a facility, devising a maintenance scheme, developing a product, implementing or upgrading a system, re-engineering a process, conducting some research, hosting a major event, relocating an office, transforming an organisation’s culture or indeed undertaking anything by way of a project or programme, EuroMaTech’s Project Management courses, coaching and consultancy services will help you to deliver better, faster and cheaper.

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