Project Management Institute

On guard


On Guard

EVEN THE safest-seeming projects can veer woefully off track. By identifying project risks early on, teams know what to look for. And that means potential problems—and opportunities—are spotted earlier.

“Companies that are able to proactively assess, analyze and manage risks are better equipped to effectively manage uncertainties,” says Shelley Hurley, leader of the risk-management practice for the resources operating group of global consulting giant Accenture.

A 30-year veteran of risk management, she helps the organization and its clients develop project and portfolio risk-management practices.

What's Accenture's approach to risk management?

We believe an organization-wide risk-management framework is necessary to fully understand a project's risk profile and to position yourself to achieve business objectives. That framework includes a robust, proactive risk assessment, analysis, reporting, feedback and monitoring process.

By standardizing the process, we integrate risk-management assessments into all strategic business decisions and align our risk appetite and tolerance with our business objectives.

What part does project management play in risk management (and vice versa)?

Having a strong project management process that integrates with risk management makes it easier to embed risk management into the culture of the organization, and the business is more open to seeing both the upside and the downside.

Project management, on the other hand, benefits from a strong risk-management framework, as it improves the chances of successful delivery of a project.

Has the recession affected risk management?

Risk management has always been important to the planning and implementation of projects, but it has gained more traction in the current economic climate.

Businesses are becoming more watchful and want to understand the risks that they're taking when planning new growth strategies, operational improvements, or other key business and technology initiatives. But it's also important for companies to recognize that risk management is central to a company's ability to grow its business. They have to understand their risk-tolerance level and manage within that. Generally, a company able to responsibly manage more risk than its competitors will have an edge in the market.

How can executives incorporate risk management into their overall strategy?

Sometimes organizations treat risk management as if it's a box to be checked on a list. But it's imperative that risks are reviewed, managed and evaluated on an ongoing basis, providing yet more data that can be factored into management decisions. PM

»Sometimes organizations treat risk management as if it's a box to be checked on a list. But it is imperative that risks are reviewed, managed and evaluated on an ongoing basis.

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