SUCCESSFULLY MANAGING RISK IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK!

What if I told you that you could plan for risk, better your chances of knowing what types of risk to expect, mitigate risk and even circumvent risk with one piece of software? Sound impossible? I knew you’d think that! But I’m here to tell you that it’s not…

Let me introduce to you RiskMP – a ground-breaking software that can and will make risk management on your next project as easy as 1, 2, 3.                  RISKMP

Every project plan carries with it some uncertainty and risk.  Addressing and managing that uncertainty or risk is made easy with RiskMP.  Built specifically for the construction industry, RiskMP software leads you through the steps of creating a risk management plan.  RiskMP makes executing and managing that plan easy throughout the execution of the entire project.

Risk management is about being proactive – not firefighting.  By anticipating, planning and addressing risk you can reduce the magnitude of its impact and keep the project on track. Managing risk is essential to delivering projects on time and on budget.

Project management best practises include a solid risk management plan.

Since project management requires constant communication, RiskMP makes your project plan accessible to you any time and anywhere that you have Internet or cell phone access.

Effective risk management requires dialogue; with the project management team, with remote sites, owners and consultants. RiskMP allows you to share project plans and risk management plans with any number of users, at your discretion.

RiskMP integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Project to facilitate a continuous risk management process.  Reports on top priority risks, most imminent risks and severe risks are available at the press of a button along with mitigation plans and costing information. Graphs convey the important details of the risk profile through the course of the project. And because the status of a project can change from day to day, RiskMP makes it easy to synchronize and update with the project plan. RiskMP, a user-friendly software, is a complete risk management system and innovative communication tool. For more information – www.riskmp.com

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3 TOOLS FOR RISK IDENTIFICATION IN CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

Why do project delays and related issues crop up over and over again?  The company has project managers with experience and knowledge, but it also has project team members whose knowledge isn’t so extensive.  And most of all, once the project is underway, no one seems to have time to plan, look ahead and strategize.  As a consequence, the project manager ends up putting out fires yet again.                                    Risk Identification                                            ‘

Risk management is essential before the project is in full swing – early on – in the planning stages.

And where are the sources of crucial information concerning risk? That’s easy – just take a look at previous projects and talk to experienced project managers!

And how exactly do you garner the information?

The first method is the formalized “Grampa Simpson” method, or the Expert Interview.  Create a series of questions like those below.  Ask PMs, site supers and foremen with experience in these projects, to talk about it – and record that info.   Then review and synthesize.  With the “Grampa Simpson” method – tongue in cheek – you end up with the biggest, noisiest problems, but not necessarily the most costly. And yes, sometimes you’ll have to sit through the whole story – including how Gerry, that knucklehead engineer or consultant, said this or that and so on.

To get this to work, create a standard set of open questions, keep good records and synthesize the information. Simply examining the project plan in isolation is often insufficient.  Risk deals with uncertainty and unknowns.  Mitigation of risk encompasses every bit of information that is available.  In identifying risk, the following tools or techniques can been used:

  1. Expert interviews: Your company employs people with experience.  The company that contracted you for this project has experience.  Typical interview questions are:
  • Did anything go off schedule or not as planned in the last project?
  • What were the biggest issues faced in terms of meeting the deadlines? Costs?  Scope?
  • Were there any significant shortcomings?
  • Were there any significant areas of uncertainty?
  • What drove the project off course?

The interview questions will not give you a risk analysis.  They will point you in a direction of inquiry.

  1. Brainstorming: Everyone has been to meetings where the open ended question has been asked. The markers, white boards and flip charts are out and a lot of random thoughts are expressed.  Sometimes good ideas come out of brainstorming, but this technique has a few flaws:
    • It is very hard to keep a meeting on-topic.
    • The strongest personalities usually dominate, and definitely, the management hierarchy will influence whether a good idea is voiced or not. Everyone censors when the boss is in the room.

So to make brainstorming work, we suggest conducting surveys outside of meetings.  Ask the questions, but ask them electronically.  Gather the results and synthesize.  This methodology has been formalized and is typically referred to as the ‘Delphi Technique’.  The anonymity of the responses ensures that respondents will not be worried about what the boss will say, or what their co-workers will think.  People can get more creative at no risk.  There is expertise in the field and in the office that can be tapped into.

Questions similar to those asked in the expert interviews can be asked, but the questions should be framed in a future tense:

  • Is XYZ likely to happen?
  • What is the impact?
  • How do we mitigate this impact?
  • How do we prevent XYZ from occurring?
  1. Delphi Technique : The essence of the Delphi Technique is:
    • Coordinator formulates problem and distributes it to experts (site people, consultants, PMs, trades, anyone with an interest)
    • Experts send written response.
    • Coordinator sends out position papers and experts have a chance to reconsider and resubmit.
    • Resubmissions are reviewed and a finalized list of risks is placed on the risk listing form.

Because this is a more structured methodology, and because the questions are revisited and re-examined,   reliable results can be achieved.

“The Delphi method is a structured communication technique, originally developed as a systematic, interactive forecasting method which relies on a panel of experts.  The experts answer questionnaires in two or more rounds. After each round, a facilitator provides an anonymous summary of the experts’ forecasts from the previous round as well as the reasons they provided for their judgements. Thus, experts are encouraged to revise their earlier answers in light of the replies of other members of their panel. It is believed that during this process the range of the answers will decrease and the group will converge towards the “correct” answer. Finally, the process is stopped after a pre-defined stop criterion (e.g. number of rounds, achievement of consensus, and stability of results) and the mean or median scores of the final rounds determine the results. Delphi is based on the principle that forecasts (or decisions) from a structured group of individuals are more accurate than those from unstructured groups.  Delphi has been widely used for business.”  [1]

Key characteristics of this methodology include

  • Anonymity of the participants. The identity of participants is not revealed even after final completion.  This eliminates bias (a key feature of groupthink) as well as the bandwagon effect.
  • Information is structured by the facilitator to eliminate irrelevant comments.
  • Participants can provide as much feedback as they wish and modify their own answers.
  • The facilitator sends out questionnaires, collects and analyzes responses, identifies common and conflicting views and provides these views for re-evaluation by the participants. This round continues until consensus is reached.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphi_method   Wikipedia

The Win-Win Combination of Heritage & Sustainability

The University of Toronto, as with many other areas in Toronto – and Canada, for that matter, is home to a plethora of historic, architecturally exquisite buildings that have been renovated to accommodate the demands of modern day requirements, including the perpetuation of “green” standards of sustainable building that is so critical in construction projects today.

Historic/heritage buildings are inherently sustainable, as preservation is at the very core of sustainability:  the use of original infrastructure and building material.  Structures built a hundred or more years ago were traditionally erected with sustainable attributes designed to respond to climate and location.  And that being the case, current day’s sustainable technology is able to supplement those inherent features, while at the same time maintaining a building’s historic character.   recycle

But even taking into account the renovation/restoration project as a “recycling” project, there is still a lot to be done in order to take a heritage building to the next level so that it becomes adaptable to modern day requirements –  it’s a task that is definitely not without its challenges.        

A superb example of a building/renovation project which did just that, is the Lassonde Mining Building at the University of Toronto.  The steeped-in-history structure (which originally opened in 1904) was recently “given a new lease on life for another 100 years or more.”  And not only does it look brilliant in its architectural design (an impressive mix of new and old), but it won a 2014 Canada Green Building Council Award for ingenuity in both preservation and sustainability.

An article by Ian Harvey on the Daily Commercial News website cites the details of the magnificent project, including photos.

Way to do it right!

And for more great tips on sustainability as well as crucial project management & risk management information and training, join one of our Gold Seal accredited workshops.  https://escomputertraining.com/courses/list/industry/9

A project’s risk management strategy is subject to two main constraints:  time and documentation effort.

As every PM knows, time is the scarcest resource they have in their project.    To be effective, the Risk Management process must be efficient and require only a minimal attention.

riskmp project manager running out of time

Risk Management for Construction – Project Management time and documentation

An additional constraint is the effort expended in documentation. Any process in project management that requires significant resources for documentation will normally remain on the shelf.

A successful project’s risk management process is governed by the parameters of ‘limited time’ and ‘minimal documentation’

The goal of any risk management system is to

  1. Get PM’s thinking about Risks and ways to mitigate them in advance
  2. Get PM’s to understand their Plan B, C and D intuitively
  3. Encourage PM’s to investigate opportunities and options
  4. Facilitate follow up on PLAN B and C and D as things change.

There are two distinct steps to implementing Risk Management in your company practise.  The first is get the PM’s thinking about risk and uncertainty in the project; essentially to ensure that everyone understands the conceptual framework.  The second is to provide simple tools for developing the risk management plan during the planning and scheduling stage of the project, and communicating, recording, following up on Plan B, C, and D during the project execution stage.    Another important component of the system is the ability to communicate actuals from the site and assess their impact.  Again, this communication must be simple and efficient.

So here are the recommendations:

  1. Training and refreshers — Every PM should have a solid understanding of Risk Management and how it applies to project management and the benefits of Risk Management to the project and the company.
  2. Tools – In this age of computers, software that allows the project manager to
    • Formulate a project plan easily
    • Communicate that plan to the team
    • Incorporate changes, especially as the project progresses
    • Incorporate communication from remote sites and team members.

Our solution to the tools question is  RiskMP 

  1. Management leadership. With management support for the time and attention spent on risk management, the process can succeed and open the company up to the benefits of Risk Management including decreased costs and improved processes.