Strategies for Negative Risks or Threats

Three of the following strategies typically deal with threats or risks that may have negative impacts on project objectives if they occur. The fourth strategy, accept, can be used for negative risks or threats as well as positive risks or opportunities. These strategies, described below, are to avoid, transfer, mitigate, or accept.

• Avoid. Risk avoidance involves changing the project management plan to eliminate the threat entirely. The project manager may also isolate the project objectives from the risk's impact or change the objective that is in jeopardy. Examples of this include extending the schedule, changing the strategy, or reducing scope. The most radical avoidance strategy is to shut down the project entirely. Some risks that arise early in the project can be avoided by clarifying requirements, obtaining information, improving communication, or acquiring expertise.

• Transfer. Risk transfer requires shifting some or all of the negative impact of a threat, along with ownership of the response, to a third party. Transferring the risk simply gives another party responsibility for its management—it does not eliminate it. Transferring liability for risk is most effective in dealing with financial risk exposure. Risk transference nearly always involves payment of a risk premium to the party taking on the risk. Transference tools can be quite diverse and include, but are not limited to, the use of insurance, performance bonds, warranties, guarantees, etc. Contracts may be used to transfer liability for specified risks to another party. For example, when a buyer has capabilities that the seller does not possess, it may be prudent to transfer some work and its concurrent risk contractually back to the buyer. In many cases, use of a cost-plus contract may transfer the cost risk to the buyer, while a fixed-price contract may transfer risk to the seller.

• Mitigate. Risk mitigation implies a reduction in the probability and/or impact of an adverse risk event to be within acceptable threshold limits. Taking early action to reduce the probability and/or impact of a risk occurring on the project is often more effective than trying to repair the damage after the risk has occurred. Adopting less complex processes, conducting more tests, or choosing a more stable supplier are examples of mitigation actions. Mitigation may require prototype development to reduce the risk of scaling up from a bench-scale model of a process or product. Where it is not possible to reduce probability, a mitigation response might address the risk impact by targeting linkages that determine the severity. For example, designing redundancy into a system may reduce the impact from a failure of the original component.

• Accept. This strategy is adopted because it is seldom possible to eliminate all threats from a project. This strategy indicates that the project team has decided not to change the project management plan to deal with a risk, or is unable to identify any other suitable response strategy. This strategy can be either passive or active. Passive acceptance requires no action except to document the strategy, leaving the project team to deal with the risks as they occur. The most common active acceptance strategy is to establish a contingency reserve, including amounts of time, money, or resources to handle the risks.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

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