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Risk and its role in Project and Portfolio Management....... Do you want to play?

Brian McQuillan ‎09-20-2013 01:33 PM - edited ‎09-30-2013 08:19 AM

I know this will date me somewhat, but I trust you will be kind =) There is a board game, called “Risk” that I have played for a long time (and trust me, it takes a LOONG time to play).  The basic premise is that when the game is over, one player will have taken over the world. The true question when playing is: what are you, as a player, willing to 'risk' to achieve that goal?


If you have never played, trust me, you should. If you are ever looking for an experience that will help you hone strategic (how do I take over the world?) and tactical (ok, so let's think Yakutsk......) skills required of forward planning and “what if” scenarios, then this will help.


 The strategic balance of project and portfolio managers


What does the game of “Risk” have to do with project and portfolio management?

Well.... Lots.


Most of what we do in trying to build and balance a portfolio, or manage the progress on our projects is similar to a game of “Risk”. We spend our time thinking of the future. These thoughts often include:


  • Trying to think ahead
  • Thinking about all future possibilities
  • Analyzing the fear of the unknown
  • Devising a plan to deal with the unknown


Trust me, you should have a plan.


Risk, and its mitigation, is a strategic part of how we manage projects. At its essence, is it about managing a set of calculated gambles and weighing the odds of each move you make. This all needs to be accomplished before committing your forces (resources, sorry, sometimes I backslide into game mode :)) to the fray, as well as trying to quantify the impact of any action to the project and the business.


This brings me to another, slightly related topic. In one of my previous posts, I spoke about failure and how even with the best controls in place, project failures will still happen, but it's how we manage the process of learning.


So how do we avoid going down that path of having to 'man up', accept that we have failed and force ourselves to move on and do better on the next project? A lot of the keys to avoiding failure boils down to how you identify and manage risks.


So when you go into a project, how do you identify the risks within your environment? How do you predict future risks? How do you identify the risks to your plans? Risks may just be those challenges and barriers that stand in the way of your success.


I would like to leave you with a few questions to consider:


  • How do you quantify and categorize risks for impact and probability?
  • How do you plan to mitigate risks?



And finally, what is your plan to rule the world?


Get more information about HP Project and Portfolio Management here.





About the Author

Brian McQuillan

Brian is a Product Marketing Manager for Application Development Management Solutions with and previously for Project and Application Portfolio Management, with extensive experience in presales and implementation roles.

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