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Risk Identification – Typical Risk Sources (#2 in the series How To Effectively Manage Project Risks)
By Michael D. Taylor

Identification of project risks is not a one-time only event. As projects progress new risks will become evident and must be addressed accordingly. It is imperative that project managers take full advantage of the skills and experiences of subject matter experts, and other project managers of similar past projects. The challenge facing risk management teams is knowing where to begin the process of risk identification. It’s not uncommon to see blank facial expressions when one asks the question, “What risks do we face on this project?”

Typical risk sources that should be examined are:

  • Poorly defined product requirements
  • Design “drift”
  • Exceeding technical capabilities
  • Accepting an unproven technology
  • Making too many changes to an existing product
  • Limited availability of needed skills
  • Project deadlines
  • Budget/funding limits
  • Extensive sharing of resources
  • Learning curve periods
  • Effects of major holidays
  • Activity bottlenecks
  • Marketing risk

MICHAEL D. TAYLOR, M.S. in systems management, B.S. in electrical engineering, has more than 30 years of project, outsourcing, and engineering experience. He is principal of Systems Management Services, and has conducted project management training at the University of California, Santa Cruz Extension in their PPM Certificate program for over 13 years, and at companies such as Sun Microsystems, GTE, Siemens, TRW, Loral, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and Inprise. He also taught courses in the UCSC Extension Leadership and Management Program (LAMP), and was a guest speaker at the 2001 Santa Cruz Technology Symposium. His website is www.projectmgt.com.

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