Why does Risk Management Matter?

Risk management and why its important on research projects

Why does Risk Management Matter?

There are a lot of misconceptions about Risk Management. Yes, okay, it can be just a matrix you have to write as part of a tender submission or a compliance activity that has little practical use – but it is also a lot more than that.

While Project Managers out there are asking everyone to think about risk – for many of us risk management plans, risk matrices, hazard analyses and so on, are documents that other people care about.

Why do Project Managers claim risk management is useful?
First and foremost, the process of thinking as a project team about risks, challenges and issues helps you to ensure that your deliverable meets the required quality standards – and that leads to success!

If you are delivering a research report tackling the impacts of climate change on bird life, you’d be disappointed if it wasn’t accepted or published because you didn’t manage to get to an important research site due to a flat tyre, and you didn’t plan to have a spare.

If you are delivering an instrument to launch into space, you’d also be disappointed if you hadn’t factored in how turbulence could destroy the instrument while being hurtled through the atmosphere.

At its core, risk management is about enabling decisions, and creating opportunities, so that you can deliver the best product you can.

In the above examples, you can see how the process of thinking about the limitations to success can help you plan, and by integrating that plan into your delivery, you can avoid those critical issues from arising and stopping you from succeeding.

Risk management is also about thinking positively – what are the opportunities you could explore to enable success?
Let’s take the research report example above – this time, you planned to have a flat, and you packed the spare tyre, as well as an inflation kit. You are thinking about all the things you need to pack, the route you will take, and the requirements you need to meet to deliver the report. There is one particular bird species that is part of your study that is elusive, and though it is prone to that area, you have never spotted one before. While not spotting one doesn’t in any way affect the acceptance of your report or success in getting the work done, you know that a colleague specialises in this bird species and bringing them along for the ride will create the opportunity for the best quality report you can deliver.

So next time you have a project, take a moment to think about risk. The worst thing that can happen is that you achieve success. For more information on managing risk in your next project, contact our Project Management team.