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Risk Management Tools

"Tools can support the risk management process, but they can also be a crutch that distracts from dealing with the real issues. This is especially the case if selecting or purchasing the tool takes away from making progress on the project deliverables. This definitely does not mean that you should not leverage risk management tools, just keep their value in perspective. Any tool selection processes can too easily get locked into a quagmire and you cannot afford this time during a project rescue."

"Here are some features that risk management tools should have, followed by some of the types of tools you might want to deploy to mitigate risk on a project:

  • Multiple user access
  • Distributed access
  • Severity
  • Web ability
  • Relatively inexpensive"

Estimation Tools

"Estimation tools are used to project the costs and timeframes for a project given what you know about it in the planning stages. Projects are typically segmented into project dimensions such as: the experience of the project team, the skills of the project team, level of politics on the project, whether implementation is involved, experience with the tools used on the project, and use of outside resources. Good estimation tools use this information to generate a project plan, resources at the task level, and overall costs. This usually provides a good start, but still requires customization from the project manager."

"These tools can serve several benefits during a project rescue. Some surveys have reported that estimation tools have an accuracy of plus or minus 25 percent more than half the time. This is consistent with our observations as you cannot completely rely on these tools to eliminate risk. However, these tools are useful for overall estimation. They will also help you to identify the areas that are likly to be exceptions and which will require additional analysis to get more accuracy."

Simulation Tools

"By using specific data points and constraints and modeling outcomes, simulation tools are very helpful in establishing a risk assessment. These are excellent for examining what-if conditions. The tools do tend to be on the expensive side and limited in what they are able to predict. Some industries are also better represented than others. Simulation tools in the aeronautics field, for example, are more plentiful and useful than ones for payment systems."

Analytical and Decision Support Tools

"Any tools that can extract or summarize key information about risks or the conditions that create them are useful to the risk management process. Data warehouses, data marts, and business intelligence can provide the raw information for decision support tools to support the project manager. However, if these have not already been implemented, it is doubtful that there will be an opportunity to do so during a time-constrained project rescue. These are separate projects in themselves and may be recommended during the project post mortem review.

Visual Tools

"Any tools that present data in a visual format, with colors and shapes, are more likely to draw attention and be persuasive in a discussion than flat information. Preformatted dashboards and scorecards are useful here."

The above is an excerpt from a book written by Sanjiv Purba and Joseph Zucchero, published by McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2100 Powell Street, 10th Floor, Emeryville, California 94608 U.S.A. Sanjiv has over 20 years of experience managing large projects and many years engaged in rescuing ailing projects.