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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Risk Management - An Action Plan

If a risk analysis exercise is to be meaningful, it needs to result in an action plan to mitigate the prioritised risks.  Defining and implementing the action plan is the last of four steps introduced in the previous post - Risk Management - Analysis to Action.

Having identified, assessed and prioritised the risks, next consider and define a mitigation plan for each risk.  Summarise the risk strategy (Reduce; Share; Accept; Avoid), what will be done and how it will be achieved.  Guided by the mitigation plan now define, assign and schedule the actions necessary to deliver the plan.

This can be achieved using mapping software - always great for brainstorming and creativity. 

List the risks as level 1 topics or branches.  Attach key attributes of the risk to each of these topics or branches, using icons or category markers, for instance:

  • A marker for Likelihood and another for Impact
  • A marker for status or progress
  • Assign an owner using a label or task resource
  • Capture the mitigation plan summary as a sub-topic.

For each risk, next add the list of actions that will deliver the mitigation plan.  Assign resources and dates to these and you have a simple plan.

To get an idea of what this might look like in practice, here is one approach using MindGenius.  This illustration use as simple template map.

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To start, first add the risks at level 1 and add the attributes using Categories and Task markers.

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Next add the summary of the mitigation plan.

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Then add the actions with resources and dates assigned.

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A simple example for a change management programme looks like this.

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You now have several choices as to how to publish the plan and maintain it over time, for instance you may:

  • use the MindGenius map as is to review progress and maintain the actions
  • use the MindGenius Gantt feature
  • export the map to MS Project and integrate with the overall project schedule
  • export to MS Excel.

Here  is the example map as a MindGenius Gantt chart ....

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.... and here is a MS Project plan.

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Exporting to Excel offers additional options, especially where communicating the plan to a project group not familiar with the other formats.  First step is to select 'Export to Microsoft Excel' and choose your options.  In the following example, the key options selected are:

  • 'Apply MindGenius styles' (the text formatting on the map will be applied to Excel - great if you have a preferred MindGenius template style)
  • 'Flat Export'.

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With these options selected, the template produces a spreadsheet that looks like this:-

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With a bit of formatting it looks even better ....

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A general word of warning - if you use any of the export options and the plan or document you are working with is likely to go through many iterations, try to resist formatting the output beyond anything simple and easy to replicate - you'll have to format it again every time you regenerate it from MindGenius or whichever tool you are using.

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imageThe images used in this post were created using MindGenius.  If you would like to know more about MindGenius, do visit the web site and try the product free for 30 days.

Should you decide to buy MindGenius, Peace of Mind Blog can offer a 10% discount.  Just use the discount code at the checkout on the MindGenius web site or quote the code in any correspondence with MindGenius.

To claim the 10% discount please use the code:  MGELST

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Risk Management - Analysis to Action

If you are new to risk analysis and risk management, the impact for your project can seem like a draw on resources with little benefit.  However, if viewed as contributing to the identification of deliverables and the tasks that produce them, risk management begins to make sense.  The key is take the analysis through to the end and identify actions to be addressed.

Risk management in this context can be seen simply as four steps, the:

  • Identification of risks
  • Assessment of their likelihood and impact
  • Prioritisation of the risks and the responses to them
  • Implementation of actions that address the prioritised risks.

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Prioritisation of risks will involve looking at the overall context and strategy of the organisation, the objectives and constraints of the project and the desire and resources for action (the so called 'appetite for risk').

Actions to address risks will be determined by the approaches chosen for each, typically falling into one or more of:

  • Reduce - prevention, mitigation and/or contingency
  • Share - transfer risk via insurance or outsourcing
  • Accept - "live" with the risk because the likelihood is very low or the cost of reduction or sharing is too high
  • Avoid - stop doing the activity or action that carries the risk.

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It is common practice to record the key attributes from this analysis, together with the initial decisions, in a risk register or log.

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The register is the critical input into the final, action planning step.  The resulting plans will contain a mix of deliverables that:

  • Prevent or reduce the likelihood of the risk arising
  • Mitigate the impact of the risk should it arise, including the planning of budget and resources to deal with the problem should it arise
  • Contingency plans that minimise the impact and restore the situation.

The deliverables and actions are then integrated within the overall project plan or, if appropriate, assigned to owners outside of the project for attention.

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In the next post I will illustrate a simple approach using MindGenius to generate action plans to address individual risks.

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imageThe images used in this post were created using MindGenius.  If you would like to know more about MindGenius, do visit the web site and try the product free for 30 days.

Should you decide to buy MindGenius, Peace of Mind Blog can offer a 10% discount.  Just use the discount code at the checkout on the MindGenius web site or quote the code in any correspondence with MindGenius.

To claim the 10% discount please use the code:  MGELST