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PM-ing Your Life: Anticipating Risk and Planning Ahead

The first post of this three-part blog series explained how a project plan and a contingency plan are keys to success. Whether you are planning for large-scale transformation or hosting a dinner party, having a plan and a back-up plan can reduce stress and help things to run smoothly. Today, we will cover tips and tricks for anticipating risk and planning ahead to mitigate risk in any project or your day-to-day life.

Mitigate Risk while You Plan Ahead

Risk management is about identifying, eliminating, and mitigating factors that cause blockers, increase time slippage, increase spend, or expand scope. Wondering how this is used at home? Take planning a play date for your five-year-old child and three of his friends. First, ask yourself – what has the potential to cause blockers? Maybe your plan was to take the four five-year-old kids to the zoo for the day. A potential blocker is you find out the zoo is closed as soon as you arrive, or maybe there is terrible traffic on the way, and you have a group of restless five-year-old kids in the backseat (see contingency planning in part one). One way to mitigate that is to call the zoo to confirm its hours and check the map ahead of time for traffic.

zooNext, consider what could cause increased spending. On a technology project, this could cause unforeseen delays. With our playdate analogy, consider that one of the kids sees a stuffed animal he must have, causing all the kids to want one. Setting expectations for your work projects and home life can help to mitigate this risk of increased spending. Perhaps all the kids are told they can have $5 each to spend in the gift shop. Finally, look at the scope of the day and ask what could possibly cause an expanded scope. Maybe all four kids are begging to stop for ice cream on the way home. This is another part of the day that was unplanned, has the potential for a meltdown scenario, and increases the spending. Instead, plan and pack cookies for the afternoon to satisfy the desire for something sweet.

Identify Potential Nay Sayers

stakeholdersAnother aspect that helps with risk mitigation is identifying stakeholders who may impact the project’s success. This could be someone who has a negative attitude about the project, someone who may be stretched thin across multiple projects and is stressed, or someone who is against the project and wants to see it fail. Just like you might keep an eye on the child at the zoo who wants to make a break for it, you can keep an eye on any stakeholder with the potential to cause disruption as part of your risk strategy.

Flexing your project management (PM) mindset and using those skills in your everyday life can ease the stress of everyday life and dealing with bumps along the road when it comes to work projects. Just as a successful project achieves its goals and objectives, a successful playdate is to see tired 4-year olds fall asleep in the backseat and you can enjoy a peaceful drive home. In the final part of our PM Your Life blog series, we will cover conflict management and negotiation.

Virginia Ryan is an associate account director for Avaap's Data & Analytics practice. Virginia has more than 20 years of experience in strategic planning, program management, process management, and data visualization and analytics. 

Shradha Ramesh is a consultant with Avaap's Data & Analytics practice. Shradha has more than 10 years of experience with project management, business analysis and process design, and analytics.