One of the key differences between a successful project and a failed one is the way the project manager handles risk management. Larger organizations with complex projects tend to have more and bigger risks. Addressing risks is part of the project managers job, but in these situations we may need a little help.
Thats where the risk officer comes in.
A Project Managers Deputy
A risk officer is basically the team watchdog. His role, in addition to his other duties, is to foresee and detect potential problems. He wont (and shouldnt) handle the risk by himself. Instead, hell bring it to the teams attention so that the group (or the project manager) can come up with a suitable risk management plan.
The risk officers role isnt just a one-time assessment at the start of the project. Its impossible to foresee all risks at the beginningbesides which, surprise risks also pop up in mid-project, often as a result of the teams actions. So the risk officer has to be constantly alert.
Finding the Right Person
As you can imagine, few are cut out to be a risk officer. Yes men and people who suffer from tunnel vision are poor candidates. As are poorly motivated and negative individuals who see everything as a problem.
The right candidate is skeptical but not pessimistic, and has good situational awareness. He should be articulate enough to effectively report the risks. Also, he should have a good reputation within the team. The team needs to trust the risk officer implicitly, because the risk officers reports are going to seriously affect the projects direction.
Whats the Benefit?
Assigning a risk officer isnt just passing off work to someone else. Youre getting an additional set of eyes that can help you better perform risk management by helping detect and assess potential problems. Catching more problems early on means a smoother project down the road. Thats less stress for you, and a great opportunity for your risk officers professional growth and development.
So if youre managing a complex, long-term project, consider assigning a risk officer. This move might save the project from surprise costs and setbacks that may have otherwise gone undetected.
Image credit, Flickr, miss*cee