Managing risk shortcuts for project managers

A project manager may sometimes find herself dealing with a lot of stress coming from all fronts. A prime example of where that stress is coming from is the pursuit of deadlines. Pressed by higher ups to deliver, a project manager may find herself resorting to shortcuts that are more often risky.

Here are some ways to manage these risk shortcuts in project management.

(1) Be two steps ahead. In the practice of project management, one often works with the word “deadline” and trying to meet it could be stressful and sometimes, frustrating. At the back of every project manager’s mind is how he or she could beat the deadline at less cost and in short a time. Create a definitive project plan and deliver it to the whole team via e-mail, project viewer or cloud software.

There is always that temptation to take shortcuts to cut costs and time. However, it is this drive to meet the deadline at a less cost that project managers often find themselves tinkering with the idea of doing shortcuts. Such shortcuts can meet the project a goal in the short term yet has far-reaching consequences after all.

But an effective and perspicacious project manager knows how to deal with risks.

A project manager does not only live for the moment–he or she anticipates what is yet to come; what will happen to the project if a particular choice is made.  What will the impact of such a decision to the viability of the project.

A shrewd decision maker, a project manager sees the forest and not just the trees. He or she is aware that the choices he or she makes today, will dictate the future of the project they oversee.

So, any shortcut could make or break a project. Only a project manager who has a sound plan can better deal with the ramifications of shortcut gone awry.

(2) Identify the risks. Being aware of what the project might be facing leads a project manager to outlining a better mitigation plan.  Check out how this is possible through a mind mapping software.

(3) Avoid the messianic complex. A project leader knows that a better decision could be reached if he or she engages the entire team in the decision-making process. After all, he or she is not the only one to be affected if the project goes south as a result of taking a shortcut.

(4) Communicate above and below. Keeping the entire organization or team in the loop is the better way of facing risks and at the same time in making choices relating to shortcuts.  A project manager must be able to communicate to his or her superiors the risks that the business or project is facing without sowing fear or anxiety. At the same time, a project manager must be able to galvanize his or her team members to action, let them identify the risks and allow them to make recommendations as to how to deal with every risk.

(5) Follow your gut. If after consulting with superiors or team members you are left with no choice but to rely on your gut instinct, follow this rule: make a decision that will bring about the greatest good for the greatest number.

Winnowing all the risks and understanding the repercussions of making any shortcut does to the business require a project manager who is patient, humble and resolute. A patient project manager knows that taking shortcuts could bring the business down to its knees. Understanding that there could be others who understand the situation better than you is a hallmark of a good leader and project manager. Know when to consult the opinion of the subordinates. And having taken into consideration all opinions about shortcuts and the accompanying risks, a project manager has to take matters into his or her own hands and make the decision.

Article written by

Stefan Jordev is marketing manager, working on Seavus’ Project Viewer – a standalone viewer for team members who need to view and analyze project plans. Passionate about ideas and innovation management, he uses mind mapping software on a daily basis to organize, plan and improve his work. His articles have been featured in more than a dozen project management and business websites.

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