Relying on Risk Identification Methods

There are five methods the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) dives into when it comes gathering project information regarding risks. You'll likely see these on your exam:

Brainstorming Good old-fashioned brainstorming is the most common approach to risk identification. It's usually completed as a project team with subject matter experts to identify the risks within the project. The risks are identified in broad terms and posted, and then the risks' characteristics are detailed. Your pal, the risk breakdown structure, can help facilitate the brainstorming process. The identified risks are categorized and will pass through the qualitative and quantitative risk analyses later. I'll discuss those in just a few pages—no peeking!

• Delphi Technique The Delphi Technique, shown in Figure 11-2, is an anonymous method used to query experts about foreseeable risks within a project, phase, or component of a project. The results of the survey are analyzed by a third party, organized, and then circulated to the experts. There can be several rounds of anonymous discussion with the Delphi Technique without fear of backlash or offending other participants in the process. The Delphi Technique is completely anonymous, and the goal is to gain consensus on project risks within the project. The anonymous nature of the process ensures that no single expert's advice overtly influences the opinion of another participant.

I often get asked why this approach is called the Delphi Technique. This approach was developed during the Cold War as a forecasting and consensus-building device. It's called the Delphi Technique after the "Oracle of the Delphi." Delphi is a Greek archeological site that, according to legend, is the center of the universe. However, as fascinating as Greek mythology is, there won't be any legends on your PMI examination. Sorry.

Figure 11-2

The Delphi Technique uses rounds of anonymous surveys to gain consensus.

Varying project outcomes


Rounds of surveys

• Hosting interview sessions Interviewing subject matter experts and project stakeholders is an excellent approach to identifying risks on the current project based on the interviewees' experiences. The people responsible for risk identification share the overall purpose of the project, the project's work breakdown structure (WBS), and, likely, the same assumptions as the interviewee.

The interviewee, through questions and discussion, shares his insight on what risks he perceives within the project. The goal of the process is to learn from the expert what risks may be hidden within the project, what risks this person has encountered on similar work, and what insight the person has into the project work.

• Root cause identification Project managers and the project team often see the impact of a risk, but not always its cause. Root cause identification aims to find out why a risk event may be occurring, the causal factors creating the risk events, and then, eventually, how the events can be mitigated or eliminated.

• Implementing SWOT analysis SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. SWOT analysis is the process of examining the project from the perspective of each characteristic. For example, a technology project may identify SWOT as:

• Strengths The technology to be installed in the project has been installed by other large companies in our industry.

• Weaknesses We have never installed this technology before.

• Opportunities The new technology will allow us to reduce our cycle time for time-to-market on new products. Opportunities are things, conditions, or events that allow an organization to differentiate itself from competitors and improve its standing in the marketplace.

• Threats The time to complete the training and simulation may overlap with product updates, new versions, and external changes to our technology portfolio.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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