Managing Risk and Shortcuts for Project Managers

Project managers are often dealing with loads of stress coming from all fronts, such as the pursuit of deadlines. Pressed by senior managers to deliver, project managers may find themselves resorting to risky shortcuts to make ends meet. Here are some ways to manage these risky shortcuts in project management.

1. Be two steps ahead

At the back of every project manager’s mind is how he or she can meet their deadline faster and at less cost. There is always that temptation to take shortcuts. Taking said shortcuts can meet the project goal in the short term, yet has far-reaching consequences.

An effective and perspicacious project manager knows how to deal with risks. They not only live for the moment–he or she anticipates what is yet to come; what will happen to the project if a particular choice is made.

A shrewd decision maker, the project manager sees the forest, not just the trees. He or she is aware that their choices today will dictate the future of the project they oversee. So, any shortcut could make or break a project. Only a project manager who has a sound plan can better deal with the ramifications of shortcut gone awry.

2. Identify the risks

Being aware of what the project might be facing leads a project manager to outlining a better mitigation plan.

3. Avoid the messianic complex

A project leader knows that a better decision could be reached if he or she engages the entire team in the decision-making process. After all, he or she is not the only one to be affected if the project goes south as a result of taking a shortcut.

4. Communicate above and below

Keeping the entire organization or team in the loop is the better way of facing risks and at the same time in making choices relating to shortcuts.  A project manager must be able to communicate to his or her superiors the risks that the business or project is facing without showing fear or anxiety. At the same time, a project manager must be able to galvanize his or her team members to action, let them identify the risks and allow them to make recommendations as to how to deal with every risk.

5. Follow your gut

If after consulting with superiors or team members you are left with no choice but to rely on your gut instinct, follow this rule: make a decision that will bring about the greatest good for the greatest number.

Winnowing all the risks and understanding the repercussions of making shortcuts requires a project manager who is patient, humble and resolute. A patient project manager knows that taking shortcuts could bring the business down to its knees. Understanding that there may be others who understand the situation better than you is a hallmark of a good leader and project manager. Know when to consult the opinion of the subordinates. And having taken into consideration all opinions about shortcuts and the accompanying risks, a project manager has to take matters into his or her own hands and make the decision.

By Stefan Jordev

About the author

Stefan Jordev is marketing manager, working on Seavus Project Viewer – standalone viewer for team members who only need to view and analyse Microsoft Project plans. Passionate about ideas and innovation management, he uses mind mapping software on a daily basis to organize, plan and improve his work.

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