Why Integrating Risk Management Into Projects Is Important

Integrating risk management is critical for project success. Here’s how professionals are making risk a priority.

Projects are most successful when you plan them effectively — and that includes risk management. Risk is an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on a project's objectives. Being proactive and planning for project risks will help steer your project towards success. Here are tips from professionals on how to integrate risk management into your project plan.

Take risk out of its silo.

Integrating risk management into the project process in every area is how Mohamad ElHelaly, PMI-RMP, an assistant project manager at Orascom Construction in Cairo, Egypt, believes projects should be approached.

“[Risk] should be integrated into all the decision management and the decision-taking part,” ElHelaly says. “It should be an integral part to the strategic management and the strategic planning. It should be part of every process in all departments in the company and the project… That’s what I’d love to have risk management in the future [look] like. It’s risk in mind in whatever you do, whatever decision, whatever activities, whatever process.”

Embed risk management into company culture.

Weaving the risk management process into your company culture can help everyone prepare for unexpected events. “It must start from the buy-in from the CEO and the COO and the managing director,” ElHelaly says. “For example, each company has their own procedures and processes and manuals and everything. And then there was a separate risk management process and separate risk management manual. That should not be the case. It should be integrated in every process and every structure and every manual and every document in the company.”

Rethinking risk management is something Ernest Seto, PMI-RMP, PMP, project manager, Linde Engineering, Munich, Germany, agrees with.

“The more emphasis on risk management, the easier it will be to manage risks when they materialize. Even if a risk that was not identified materializes, a team that focuses on risk management will have the mindset, the methodologies and experience to react to risks.”

Empower teams to raise risks.

Project teams are the backbone of projects. It’s important to ensure your team feels empowered to make decisions and identify risks as they arise. Including your project team in brainstorming and encouraging them to speak up can go a long way. Ashley Butao, a project manager at Capital One, Toronto, Canada, says it’s about creating a safe space.

“I think it all starts with creating a psychologically safe space for team members and empowering your team members to raise risks and issues without feeling like they’re going to have a reprisal from other team members. Or they need to worry about managers or bosses who are going to say, ‘No, we [have] got to deliver it now,’” Butao says. “It’s also planning for change. While you can have a goal that’s 18 or 12 months in advance, when it comes to planning out work tasks, embrace planning it out in small chunks. That way if something goes wrong, you can adapt faster and you can learn quicker.”

Risk management understands that certain events or conditions — whether expected or unforeseeable — may occur during the project life cycle. Ensuring risk is integrated into projects and developing a risk management framework can help teams face the unknown head-on. 


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