This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

Risk assessment

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  • #4731

    Hi all

    My project key failures were:
    – The project was delivered late
    – The quality of the content is not consistent across areas
    – Pedagogical requirements were ignored by some areas
    – No one seemed in charge
    – The post project evaluation was not conducted by some areas
    – There were unresolved disputes between different areas
    – The content when constructed wasn’t actually used by many people
    – Users feedback was not used to change anything
    – The platform it was delivered on was very limited by the skills of the support staff involved
    – An opportunity seems to have been missed to create a useful tool
    – An initial requirements survey was not adhered to

    Category  – Skills:

    Risk: Staff do not have all the skills to produce the project

    Likelihood: Medium – not sure how I would have predicted this with a cv for each staff member in each area and if I had been the project manager then I wouldn’t have recruited the staff involved. The lesson here is that it is not always possible to predict project partners particularly internationally

    Impact: Very High

    RAG Status: Red

    Risk Management: Ensure skills for the projected are identified and that the range of staff required are recruited

    Early warning signs: Key staff are recruited. Backup is to make sure sufficient training is given, a range of freelancers and a budget set aside to cover any gaps.

    Category – Management:

    Risk: Ensure a project manager is employed and agreed to by all parties

    Likelihood: Medium – across an international project often there are cultural difference and this makes it very important to ensure a clear set of management guidelines are established

    Impact: Very High

    RAG Status: Red

    Risk Management: Ensure a project manager is recruited that is agreed to by all parties and reinforce the terms of that agreement

    Early warning signs: Staff are not fulfilling requests from the project manager. Review the agreement.

    Category  – Management:

    Risk: The project plan must be agreed by all

    Likelihood: Medium – in this case a project plan was agreed and then not followed. This was due to the lack of an agreed project manager

    Impact: Very High

    RAG Status: Red

    Risk Management: Ensure skills for the projected are identified and that the range of staff required are recruited

    Early warning signs: Key milestones are not met. Project partners do not respond to emails and phone messages.

    I’ve only listed 3 of the points of failure here. I think risk assessment is good idea but I find it difficult to look at in isolation without having a solution to each problem. For example the areas listed are category, risk, likelihood, impact, RAG, Risk Management and Early Warning Signs, I’d add in two or three solutions if the worst happens thinking the risk through to worst case scenario. The adding in training and employing freelancers and allowing in the project budget for this as I’ve suggested above.

    Having a risk plan is good but often we join projects at different stages and all this my not be in place and has to be reverse engineered in.




    Hi Sandra,

    It’s really interesting to hear such familiar problems and it sounds like a difficult project. Organisations are understandably reluctant to share their failures, so I often think maybe my institution is the only one that has these issues! It’s a shame as I find failures are often far more valuable (although painful!) learning experiences than successes.

    Your risk log issues all seem to tie back to the lack of a project manager, without which there’s no one to be aware of the early warning signs or respond to them if necessary. I think without a project manager, there’s also no sense of responsibility or ‘owning’ a project, which means it doesn’t get pushed forward as it should be. From what you’ve said, it was an international project, which must have made the lack of strong leadership and clear communication even more difficult.

    Not having the right staff/skills involved in a project is something I encounter frequently in my projects. Recruitment of additional people isn’t normally an option, so we plan in training but then making time for that alongside other work isn’t always easy. I often opt for just-in-time learning but I do find it stressful sometimes. Did you attend/watch Wednesday’s webinar? There were some interesting points made there about the pressures of managing projects alongside everyday jobs but sadly we don’t have the resource to have dedicated project managers. Perhaps that would solve a lot of our issues though.



    Thanks Sandra and good points Jo. I think that with the current economic climate it is going to be even more difficult to argue that one cannot undertake managing a project whilst delivering on the day job; and to bring in a dedicated project manager. If you are lucky enough to be able to use some funds to pay other staff to do the day job whilst you manage the project then you stand a better chance of really ‘managing the project’ as it should be. Also from the webinar a key point for me was to have a project sponsor – somebody who champions the project AND has the authority (power) and is known to all participants so that when a pinch point occur they can be called on when needed to help ease pass these.


    Thank you all above for your input. I’ve really enjoyed reading the different insights into this area. Very useful, thank you!



    Fiery Red1

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