The top 20 PROJECT RISKS and how to manage them

The TOP 20 PROJECT RISKS and how to manage them. Each risk includes actions you can take to reduce likelihood of the risk happening and actions you can take if the risk does occur. See more at

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The top 20 PROJECT RISKS and how to manage them by Mind Map: The top 20 PROJECT RISKS and how to manage them

1. 1. Project purpose and need is not well-defined.

1.1. Mitigating actions

1.1.1. Complete a business case if not already provided.

1.1.2. Ensure purpose is well defined on Project Charter and PID.

1.2. Contingent actions

1.2.1. Escalate to the Project Board with an assessment of the risk of runaway costs/never-ending project.

2. 2. Project design and deliverable definition is incomplete.

2.1. Mitigating actions

2.1.1. Define the scope in detail via design workshops with input from subject matter experts.

2.2. Contingent actions

2.2.1. Document assumptions made and associated risks.

2.2.2. Request high risk items that are ill-defined are removed from scope. (the could go in a later phase)

3. 3. Project schedule is not clearly defined or understood

3.1. Mitigating actions

3.1.1. Hold scheduling workshops with the project team so they understand the plan and likelihood of missed tasks is reduced.

3.1.2. Share the schedule and go through upcoming tasks at each weekly project progress meeting.

3.2. Contingent actions

3.2.1. Revisit the schedule with the project team.

3.2.2. 'Relaunch' the schedule.

4. 4. No control over staff priorities

4.1. Mitigating actions

4.1.1. The Project Sponsor will brief team managers on the importance of the project.

4.1.2. Soft book resources as early as possible

4.1.3. Communicate final booking dates asap after the scheduling workshops.

4.1.4. Identify back ups for each human resource on the project.

4.2. Contingent actions

4.2.1. Escalate to the Project Sponsor and bring in back up resource.

5. 5. Consultant or contractor delays

5.1. Mitigating actions

5.1.1. Include late penalties in contracts.

5.1.2. Build in and protect lead time in the schedule.

5.1.3. Communicate schedule early.

5.1.4. Check in with suppliers regularly.

5.1.5. Ask again and again if they need anything else.

5.1.6. Query ‘90% done’

5.2. Contingent actions

5.2.1. Escalate to Project Sponsor and Contracts Manager.

5.2.2. Implement late clauses.

6. 6. Estimating and/or scheduling errors

6.1. Mitigating actions

6.1.1. Break this into two risks 'cost estimating' and 'scheduling errors'.

6.1.2. Use two methods of cost estimation, and carefully track costs and forecast cost at completion making adjustments as necessary.

6.2. Contingent actions

6.2.1. Escalate to project sponsor and project board.

6.2.2. Raise change request for change to budget or schedule.

6.2.3. Pull down contingency.

7. 7. Unplanned work that must be accommodated

7.1. Mitigating actions

7.1.1. Attend project scheduling workshops.

7.1.2. Check previous projects, for actual work and costs.

7.1.3. Check all plans and quantity surveys.

7.1.4. Document all assumptions made in planning and communicate to the project manager before project kick off.

7.2. Contingency actions

7.2.1. Escalate to the Project Manager with plan of action, including impact on time, cost and quality.

7.2.2. Raise a change request.

8. 8. Lack of communication, causing lack of clarity and confusion.

8.1. Mitigating actions

8.1.1. Write communication plan which includes frequency, goal, and audience of each communication.

8.1.2. Identify stakeholders early and make sure they are considered I the communication plan.

8.1.3. Use most appropriate channel of communication for audience. For example, don't send a 3 paragraph email to Developers have a call instead.

8.2. Contingent actions

8.2.1. Correct misunderstandings immediately.

8.2.2. Clarify areas that are not clear swiftly using assistance from Project Sponsor if needed.

9. 9. Pressure to arbitrarily reduce task durations or run tasks in parallel increasing risk of errors.

9.1. Mitigating actions

9.1.1. Share the schedule with key stakeholders to reduce the risk of this happening.

9.1.2. Patiently explain that schedule was built using the expertise of subject matter experts.

9.1.3. Explain the risks of the changes.

9.1.4. Share the Dennis Lock quote at Why you should never arbitrarily reduce task durations.

9.2. Contingent actions

9.2.1. Escalate to Project Board with assessment of risk and impact of the change.

9.2.2. Hold emergency risk management call with decision makers & source of pressure and lay out risk and impact.

10. 10. Scope creep.

10.1. Mitigating actions

10.1.1. Document the project scope in a Project Initiation Document or Project Charter and get it authorised by the Project Board.

10.1.2. Refer to it throughout the project and assess all changes against it also ensuring alignment of any changes with the Business Case.

10.2. Contingent actions

10.2.1. Document each and every example of scope creep NO MATTER HOW SMALL in a change order.

10.2.2. Get all change orders authorised by the project board before you start work.


11. 11. Unresolved project conflicts not escalated in a timely manner.

11.1. Mitigating actions

11.1.1. Hold regular project team meetings and look out for conflicts.

11.1.2. Review the project plan and stakeholder engagement plan for potential areas of conflict.

11.2. Contingent actions

11.2.1. When aware immediately escalate to Project Board and gain assistance from Project Sponsor to resolve the conflict.

12. 12. Business Case becomes obsolete or is undermined by external or internal changes.

12.1. Mitigating actions

12.1.1. No ability to reduce likelihood, but make sure early warning is given by reviewing business case on regular basis with the Project Board.

12.2. Contingent actions

12.2.1. Initiate escalation and project close down procedure.

13. 13. Delay in earlier project phases jeopardizes ability to meet fixed date.

13.1. For example delivery of just in time materials, for conference or launch date.

13.2. Mitigating actions

13.2.1. Ensure the project plan is as accurate as possible using scheduling workshops and work breakdown structure.

13.2.2. Use Tracking Gantt and Baseline to identify schedule slippage early.

13.3. Contingent actions

13.3.1. Consider insurance to cover costs and alternative supplier as a back up.

14. 14. Added workload or time requirements because of new direction, policy, or statute.

14.1. Mitigating actions

14.1.1. No ability to reduce likelihood.

14.1.2. Some companies attempt to influence government level policy through lobbying.

14.2. Contingent actions

14.2.1. Consider insurance and use Project Board to get advance notice if possible.

15. 15. Inadequate customer testing leads to large post go live snag list.

15.1. Mitigating actions

15.1.1. Ensure customer prepares test cases/quality checks and protect testing/quality assurance window.

15.1.2. Agree categorisation for 'defects' in advance of testing e.g. Must be fixed, Nice to have, Cosmetic, Change request.

15.2. Contingent actions

15.2.1. Raise risk immediately and raise issue if it is clear testing inadequate.

15.2.2. Customer could extend testing & bring in additional resource.

16. 16. Legal action delays or pauses project.

16.1. Mitigating actions

16.1.1. Ensure all contracts signed before starting the project.

16.1.2. Follow all regulatory requirements and complete stakeholder management plan.

16.2. Contingent actions

16.2.1. Escalate to Project Board who will notify legal department. Follow instructions from legal.

17. 17. Customer refuses or delays approval of deliverables or milestones.

17.1. This puts pressure on the project manager to 'work at risk'.

17.2. Mitigating actions

17.2.1. Ensure customer decision maker with budgetary authority is identified before project start and is part of the Project Board.

17.2.2. Communicate dates for sign-off points up front.

17.3. Contingent actions

17.3.1. Escalate to Project Board and recommend action e.g. to stop the project.

18. 18. Theft of materials, intellectual property or equipment.

18.1. Mitigating actions

18.1.1. Follow security procedures.

18.1.2. Get Non-Disclosure Agreements and compliance certificates in place.

18.1.3. Verify all physical security measures in place.

18.1.4. Secure insurance.

18.2. Contingent actions

18.2.1. Notify appropriate authorities

18.2.2. Inform Project Board.

18.2.3. Start internal investigations.

18.2.4. Inform legal department.

19. 19. Acts of God.

19.1. For example, extreme weather, leads to loss of resources, materials, premises etc.

19.2. Mitigating actions

19.2.1. Ensure insurance in place.

19.2.2. Familiarise project team with emergency procedures.

19.2.3. Put back up systems in place

19.3. Contingent actions

19.3.1. Notify appropriate authorities

19.3.2. Follow health and safety procedures

19.3.3. Notify stakeholders

19.3.4. Notify Project Board

20. 20. Stakeholder action delays the project.

20.1. Mitigating actions

20.1.1. 1. Identify stakeholders

20.1.2. 2. Analyse stakeholders

20.1.3. 3. Create stakeholder engagement plan

20.1.4. 4. Project board authorise plan & budget

20.1.5. Investigate insurance options E.g. for damage/delay caused by protestors

20.1.6. Set up regular reviews of the plan and progress of stakeholder comms.

20.2. Contingent actions

20.2.1. Notify appropriate authorities Police Fire

20.2.2. Follow internal procedures E.g. for activist demonstrations PR/Media team Security

20.2.3. Make insurance claim if appropriate

20.2.4. Bring in crisis mgt/escalation team