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Content Reflective Learning Report

Application in Project Risk Management

Presented to

Introduction

Effective project risk management enables a team or organization to figure out the relative strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a project. By planning for uncertain occurrences, the team or organization can be well prepared to respond to such incidences if they happen. Therefore, successful project managers do understand the imperative value of risk management because realizing a project’s goals and targets relies on effective planning, preparation and evaluation, which can lead to the accomplishment of strategic goals. In this reflective learning report (RLR), I seek to document the knowledge, skills, aptitudes, abilities, and experiences that I have personally acquired from the PMGT 5891 Project Risk Management course. The report will cover discussion forums, team activities, literature read, and other relevant resources explored throughout the course as well as individual contribution on a number of topics. James Zull explains that reflection is a search for connections (p. 167) and asserts that considering the role of emotion can enhance the process of learning (2002, p. 169). Equally, John Zubizaretta (2004) suggests that learning portfolios aim at improving student learning by offering a structure for the learners to reflect systematically on the learning process and to build the aptitudes, skills and habits that arise from critical reflection (2004, p.15).

Outline of Personal Objectives

The chance of something going contrary to the expected course or desired outcomes is quite inevitable. The Project Management Institute (2012a) suggests that comprehensive and adequate evaluation of risks and the execution of a successful risk response underlie the success of projects and programs. Organizations are expected to have strategic project risk management systems and practices in place to ensure delivery of projects within the stipulated schedules, budgets, as well as quality standards and requirements. Excellent project risk management programs and practices allow both the project managers and their team members to optimize the outcomes of the project by employing proven techniques and strategies to plan not only for opportunities, but also to prepare for potential threats (Project Management Institute, 2012b). With this in mind, my personal objectives of this unit of study include:

  • To be able to describe basic approaches, principles and standards for project risk management and explain how they relate to the disciple of project management.

  • To understand and apply knowledge of complex and diverse project management tools to my current and future professional practice and study.

  • To professionally and effectively communicate to different audiences (or stakeholders), displaying in depth comprehension of the field as well as the unique needs of various stakeholders in the project management discipline.

  • To learn how to apply logical, critical and creative reasoning to examine, synthesize and apply theoretical knowledge and practical skills, to create proven practices and strategies to organizational challenges and concerns.

  • To effectively collaborate with colleagues or other team members and exhibit intellectual independence and autonomy to address problems.

I strongly content that most of these objectives were satisfied because of several reasons. First, the course imparted me with extra, formalized set of project risk management techniques that I can comfortably apply cost-effectively to detect, manage and mitigate risks to particular projects and programs that have fewer chances of proceeding to planning and implementation without particular focus on threats and opportunities. These encompass most of the public and private projects that are more technology oriented and involve a few million dollars, which implies that they are highly susceptible to many risks. Furthermore, this unit study enabled me to develop a potential framework for application of professional risk management to both simple and complex projects. The course imparted to me the capability to identify and implement case-specific risk management techniques and tools within this risk management framework.

Another imperative component that was fundamental to the satisfaction of those objectives includes effective course method and learning resources. In particular, the instruction was delivered using and appropriate, balanced combination of classroom-based lectures, videos, workshops, and discussion forums. For instance, the course leverages workshops which were utilized extensively not only to enhance learning, but also to foster the learners’ development of understanding. To facilitate learning, we were provided with a set of comprehensive bound module with relevant learning materials covering the lecture and workshop activities.

The workshops were perhaps the most excellent in the competency development because they were effective ways of learning not only in the human and social aspects of software engineering, but also in agile development. The agile development workshops were successful in the simulation of real-life experiences.

Sources of Learning

Diverse sources of learning, including articles, course materials, team/group work on assignment, and discussion forums had significant impact on my competence development throughout the unit study. This part of the report explains how these sources of learning impacted my competence development in project risk management.

Articles

In their article Barki and Suzanne Rivard (2001) sugges an integrated contingency model that I found relevant in project risk management when using software. The model particular builds from the IS literature covering software risk management and contingency studies undertaken on Organization Theory literature (P.39). I derived valuable insights from concepts and tools such as performance, risk exposure, and risk management profile which contributed to my competence development. Similarly, in their indepth discussion of the Microsoft Project 2010 Scott Daley and Quantum PM exposed me to more software project risk management, which enhanced my knowledge of computer applications in project management.Stephen Ward and Chris Chapman (2003) expounded on important concepts and a processes like uncertainty management and opportunity management, besides discussing the “event” perspective of risk. They hold that focusing on ‘uncertainty’ as opposed to the risk itself may potential improve project risk management (p.97).

Course Resources

The diverse course resources perhaps contributed the most of my competence development in project risk management. Thiry (2010), Project Management Institute (2012) and Pellegrinelli (2008) generated valuable insights into processes and techniques in project portfolio management. These resources helped me learn and improve my understanding of portfolio management as a strategy to risk management. Also in Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice and the Bass handbook of leadership, Wasserman, Anand and Nohris (2010) and Bass and Bass (2009) respectively, discern the significance of effective leadership and communication in project management. These materials exposed to the crucial concepts, models and theories of leadership such as transformational leadership that is a major factor in project risk management success.

Besides that, I found A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK) and Goodpasture (2003) Quantitative methods in project management more helpful in comprehending project risk management processes, tools and techniques, including scheduling, forecasting, the Delphi Technique (expert judgment), quality management and budgeting (Indelicato, 2006, p.115). These are more advanced tools in this field hence understating how they are applied in project risk management is integral to my success in project management practice. Other important sources of learning that were embedded in the course were websites. For example, by exploring the website
http://elearning.sydney.edu.au, I became acquitted to a number of project delivery approaches which improved my competence in project implementation. Similarly http://elearning.sydney.edu.au/
also introduced me to relevant project risk management practices that enhanced my knowledge and competence in this field.

Team/Group Work Assignments

Group assignments were other learning sources that yielded tangible benefits to my competence development. Group assignments empowered me by redefining my primary objectives and responsibilities in pursuing this unit of study. In this context, the concept of empowerment implies making course activities and goals more “feasible or operational.” This was only possible because the peer review evaluation and the CAMPE evaluation and the group assignment demands established conditions in which I was willing to share the responsibility among my fellow team members to foster team learning. Furthermore, this learning source helped me to develop higher-level thinking and critical analysis skills by learning and reflecting on team activities.

Moreover, group assignments provided me with a greater opportunity to practice or apply some theoretical concepts and skills to real-life situations, such as project leadership and communication. For example, effective team performance called for creating and distributing roles and responsibilities among the team members. This was an opportune moment that I tried out leadership and communication skills with the assumption that the class assignment was the actual project. Assuming the group leader position, I had to understand myself and my emotions and how they affect me as well as those around me. This denotes emotional intelligence which Wasserman, Anand and Nohria (2010) is imperative in today’s leadership practices. This opportunity helped me to learn how to interact and communicate with different people.

Discussion Forums and Workshops

Properly structured workshops and group projects reinforced my skills and abilities that are to the project risk management practice and which I had not developed, including:

  • Breaking complex project/group tasks into simple, manageable parts and steps

  • Effective planning and management of tasks/assignments and time

  • Giving and receiving relevant feedback on task/project performance

  • Challenge assumptions

  • Think critically and make informed decisions, and

  • Develop more effective communication skills

  • Applying theoretical concepts to real-life situations

  • Being open to different ideas, perspectives and suggestions made by colleagues

Competence Development

This unit of study has exposed e to vast improved processes, tools, and techniques applied to project risk management. This exposure has changed my “conventional” understanding of most of the topics covered in the course. First, I have learned that expert judgment can supplement other algorithmic methods of cost estimation. In particular, I have learned to provide situation-specific judgment, ideas, and decisions based upon appropriate knowledge, experience and expertise in an application area, discipline or industry on the project activity being implemented like cost estimation and forecasting.

Second, developing my critical thinking ability and skills in order to arrive at accurate, precise conclusions and solutions by visualizing diverse opportunities and threats and being rational in detecting, defining and evaluating problems has changed how I perceived project risk management. Today, I understand that PRM is quite complex and demanding hence the need for critical thinking. Also, it has come to my realization that the complexity of most project threats and opportunities calls for competence in project integration management. This involves effectively co-ordinate the different project components through appropriate planning, scheduling, forecasting, execution and change control to complete the project within defined time, budget and quality. Equally, the course exposure has made me realize that excellent project risk, cost, a d time management are integral to project completion and success. Lastly, interaction and communication within the team and among the team members further dictate project success. As a consequence, effective project reporting and leadership practice can only foster project success.

Table 1: Summary Personal Competence Development

Project Competence

Core Objective

Expert Judgment

To provide situation-specific judgment

Critical thinking

To arrive at accurate, precise conclusions and solutions

Project Integration Management

To co-ordinate the different project components through appropriate tools

Project Quality management

To ensure project outcome/result meet expected quality standards

Project Risk Management

To effectively detect, manage and mitigate threats and opportunities to the project

Project Cost Management

To complete the project within the allocated funding

Project Reporting

Collect, analyze and distribute quality project information

Project Leadership

To apply effective leadership approaches to realize quality teamwork

Application of the Competence in Future

First, I will apply the competency that I have developed in the course of this unit study to effectively and efficiently management projects and project related opportunities and threats. My project integration framework will start with selection of appropriate blend of activities and processes that fit in with the overall project demands and targets. This will be followed by development of a coherent, consistent plan factoring all project constituents. This will be supplemented by incorporating project integration management into future projects and activities to ensure that they are aligned with the defined goals and objectives of such initiatives and co-ordination of the various parts of the project. This will include creating a framework that encompasses establishing the planning and control mechanisms, budgeting all the aspects and activities of the proposed project. This will stretch to relevant consultation and interaction with all stakeholders and project personnel involved in the project delivery phases.

Figure 1: General Project Risk Management Competency

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EXPERT JUDGEMENT

RISK MANAGEMENT

PROJECT REPORTING

COST MANAGEMENT

QUALITY MANAGEMENT

PROJECT
MANAGEMENT

INTEGRATION MNAGEMENT

CRITICAL THINKING

LEADERSHIP

Furthermore, I will investing in the scheduling and forecasting tool by creating a project schedule baseline plan that accurately captures all tasks and resources estimates (time, money, personnel, and skills) necessary to complete specific tasks. I can incorporate both qualitative and quantitative estimation and forecasting tools such as PERT and Gantt Charts to enhance clarity of the project schedule. All the project risk management tools learned in this unity study (budgeting, scheduling, expert judgment, forecasting and quantity management) can be integrated with project cost management processes and techniques to ensure that the project is completed not only within the set timeframe, but also within the budget allotted.

To manage the project costs effectively, I will first create a periodic (annual, monthly, quarterly, or biannually) baseline budget plan upon which all the project tasks, resources, expenses, and time will be accounted to realize set goals. This baseline will not only be utilized in tracking project costs, but I can also use it as a reference when monitoring and managing quality of the project activities and outcomes to ensure that all quality standards are meet. I will wrap up my application of the competency with creating an enabling environment that encourages open and horizontal interaction and communication among all project staff, not a vertical framework where interaction is limited to a few executives.

Nonetheless, there are various avenues one can pursue to enhance the development of this competency. The general approach I seek to embrace is lifelong learning through continuous professional development. I am willing and motivated to enroll for further advanced training course and programs primarily for both professional and personal development. I understand that the contemporary corporate world cannot be separated on the basis of training/learning and the workplace. That is time and place of learning and the place and time to applying the learned content are intricately related. My training strategy will encompass both on-the-job training and off-the-job training. Other than advancing project management processes, approaches, tools and techniques, continued training will also enable me to interact with many diverse people and possibly improve my leadership competence. Another alternative is attending job-based workshops, coaching, and mentoring. I strongly believe that adopting a goal-oriented framework to undertaking these competency development approaches will take my project management skills and expertise a notch higher.

Evaluation of Team Performance

The team performance was above average. Learning particularly in the group that I was assigned presented great opportunities to evaluate the knowledge and understanding of the course content and important skills and competences developed in discussion with my group members. For instance, most of us got the chance to try out our individual explanations and demonstrations of basic and complex project risk management processes, tools and techniques such as scheduling, forecasting and expert judgment. Moreover, the team performance was enhanced by the idea that we got the chance to ask for clarifications, illustrations and application of course content related issues in a non-threatening smaller team. Feedback on most occasion was very essential to individual member comprehension of project management and risk management approaches, processes, tools and techniques. The student teams of five were a great approach for performing quick assignment activities. For example, the peer review and CATME evaluation sessions enabled team members to compare answers and assessing individual conceptual and technical understanding during the sessions.

study units. In fact, the well functioning of my study group outperformed my individual efforts because they help us effectively tackle assignments and projects that called for more knowledge, skills and critical thinking. On top of that, teamwork enabled me to develop a host of skills and competences (such as effective project leadership and project communication) that are increasingly important in project risk management. The positive learning experiences I went through in my team enhanced my learning, retention and overall course success. Complex Project LeadershipandProject Leadership and Communications, People and Leadership, Moreover, working with my classmates in a team over the course of the study unity, in addition to having the chance to practice the course content, helped me as an individual to learn how to collaborate with others, to communicate effectively, and how to understand and accommodate varying perspectives (Caruso & Wooley, 2008, 249). These are some of the fundamental skills and competences that I confirmed to the critical during the

However, there are several issues that I feel compelled to highlight that failed to work in the team. First, individual accountability was somewhat limited as some team member could not be held responsible for their contribution to group assignments and projects. Second, the team did not foster competition among its members. Basing on these observations, I would like to make some recommendations that could help improve team performance in future. I believe setting targets that each member, not just the entire team, can increase accountability for preparation and completion of assignments. This may involve encouraging pre-session preparation prior to the actual team discussions and assignments coupled with factoring in some student grades based on individual behavior that promote team success.

I consider creating small “contests” especially for longer term assignments to be more effective in fostering completion. This may be accompanied by “rewarding” the best performers based on various aspects of the assignment, such as the most effective communication plan, project delivery approach, risk management technique, project leadership skill, etc.

Why many Organizations Use/Do Not Use the Course Processes, Tools and Techniques

There are numerous reasons of factors that hinder many organizations from utilizing the processes, tools and techniques or project risk management that have been covered in this unit. The first imperative issue is inadequate organizational capacity, particularly lack of relevant competence and skills. Organizational capacity entails the technical and management capability to manage a project risk management process or strategy. Technical skills and competence is a critical project risk management implementation factor that dictates whether these processes, tools and techniques discussed in the course success or fail (Milis and Mercken, 2002, p.106). A competent people are important when planning and implementing a project risk management process or technique and can directly impact their success of failure. To successfully plan and implement such project risk management processes, tools and techniques, the workforce of an organization needs to have the relevant capability to effectively and efficiently implement them. Dynamic and comprehensive project risks and threats call for highly skilled people not only in the key technical roles, but also in critical leadership positions and these individuals might be absent or few in an organization (Batra, Xia, VanderMeer and Dutta, 2010, p.21). I believe that organization that proceeds to adopt some of these processes and tools, especially those that are complex, without appropriate expertise to handle them stands a higher likelihood of facing delivery challenges. The team members who might be supposed to be in charge of these items play a critical role in their successful adoption and implementation. People with the relevant expertise and experience in project risk management are better equipped and positioned to adopt these processes and tools in a manner that aligns with the organization culture and strategic goals. An organization having low levels of such items might have to outsource external consultants to help them implement them. Therefore, lack of relevant competences and adequate skills in the processes, tools and techniques coved in the unit are potential impediments for many organizations to adopt them.

Second, lack of recognizing the need to adopt more improved project risk management processes, tools and techniques might also contribute their limited adoption among many organizations. A clear understanding of what threats that is likely to confront an organization within the business transaction is imperative. Equally, keeping in mind the tangible benefits for which effective project risk management processes, tools and techniques might bring is a cornerstone to determining the success and scope of the project or business (Ward, S. and Chapman, 2003, p. 98). Therefore, in the event the organization or its management fails to perceive the value these processes, tools and techniques might possibly add to their project or business, the chances of embracing them are significantly minimal.

Another closely relate factor is resources. The resources (capital) available to many organizations and the project risk management departments can affect the type and depth or processes, tools, and techniques to be used in their project risk management practices. The existing budget further impacts the amount and type of project risk management practices and tools to be employed (Milis and Mercken, 2002, p.110). For instance, sending employees to take a project risk management course that can help them become acquitted with such processes, tools and techniques discussed in the course may not fit the budget. The time and space available in the organization are other considerable resource concerns when adopting these components. If the space and time are limited, the organizations may not modify the existing project risk management processes, tools and technique for better and advanced ones. The materials required for the kind of project risk management that incorporate such processes, tools and techniques are also fundamental issue to many organizations. As a consequent, lack or limited resources may limit the possibilities for many organizations to use these things.

Lastly, lack of a dedicated and change-oriented leadership/management or organizational structure might also contribute to many organizations not using these processes, tools, and techniques. Effective organizational leadership/management needs to ensure that the specific needs, conditions, and alternative of all stakeholders, especially the staff, are assessed to established balance, well-informed and consensus-built objectives to be attained; focusing through prioritization and decision-making; coupled with monitoring task/job performance and compliance with established standards and directions (Milis and Mercken, 2002, p.110). Projects call for leaders and managers that are visionary, decisive and innovative. It is imperative that executive management backs and sustains significant change initiatives from conception throughout to completion. They need to drive the change effort to facilitate successful transformation or existing processes, systems, tools, and techniques. Many organizations may not be hindered to use the processes, tools and techniques discussed on this unit alone. Considering the technicality and complexity of contemporary risks and threats facing organizations, commitment to organizational change must be articulated in policies and strategic decisions. I consider senior level engagement and commitment to continued change, with respect to project risk management crucial to the adoption and use of these course processes, tools, and techniques.

Nonetheless, several factors cause many organizations (including mine) to use most of these improved project risk management processes, tools and techniques. Quality management is an effective tool/technique many organizations have embraced with the primary view or avoiding or lowering their exposure to risks. There are many different types of project risks, including financial, governance, resource use, and goal alignment (Milis and Mercken, 2002, p.105). On the financial perspective, for example, effective Project Portfolio Management processes can help an organization to compute the benefits vs. costs of doing away with a cost inefficient or poor performing project, besides the ability to figure out projects that are contribute the least to strategic or corporate goals (Teller and Kock, 2013, p.818). The earlier an organization detects these unprofitable projects, the earlier it can reduce their risks. Therefore, most organizations use these improved models to effectively identify and manage project risks, hence avoiding or reducing the susceptibility to more risks.

Second, adoption of most of these advanced approaches is inspired by many organizations seeking to make better, informed business decisions. To make informed decisions organizations need appropriate data and this explains why visibility is quite imperative not only from a strategic, top-down viewpoint, but also considering a tactical bottom-up viewpoint. When an organization is characterized by good handling or previous project metrics, it becomes relatively easier to forecast forthcoming issues like resource utilization. And when an organizations effectively management existing project portfolio, it can identify specific projects or project areas that are not performing as per the expectations of the project objectives (Teller and Kock, 2013, p.821). As part of the project risk management taskforce, it would be better for me to learn this at this wayward performance at this particular point rather than be informed by the top management. In resource utilization, an effective budgeting technique can help me, as part of the project risk management team, to understand how what I adjust on one area of the project affects the performance or other parts or even the delivery of the project as a whole. Furthermore, it can provide me with the opportunity to re-prioritize and re-allocate resources and activities as necessary. Also, a good project risk management process, supplemented by an effective tool or technique, can enable me to model multiple situations to ensure that the next projects result in better accomplishment or corporate objectives as opposed to drawing back other projects.

The third important cause of employing these processes and techniques is the need to maximize resources. The enhanced visibility I highlighted earlier, both from a macro and a micro perspective, can enable me as a project risk manager to have more control over the project or risk at hand, which could otherwise not be manageable by using other obsolete project risk management processes, tools, or techniques. Forecasting further can enable me to lower project-related expenses, particularly via scraping away duplicate efforts. Shortages of appropriate competences and skills as well as other resources can not only frustrate a project team, but also increase the cost of the project. However, with improved project risk management processes and tools like Delphi method, I can get a clear picture of the overall and particular project need and re-allocate my resources accordingly. For instance, a resource database can help me locate the right resources for every project faster, maintain competence profiles updates, and the handle resource need, allocation and capability.

Besides that, the desire for repeated success also moves many entities to adopt these improved items. Most of these processes and techniques can allow me to prove the great value of project risk management, especially to an organization that questions this initiative. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to show how, by the help of these advanced processes and techniques like total quality management, I can create an environment that results to continued and predictable project success. While not undermining the competences of the project risk management leadership, the value of a good scheduling process is to offer a process framework and implementation infrastructure that can enable the organization to repeatedly achieve its corporate and strategic goals.

Case Study Analysis

This section will explores the CityLink Melbourne project case study, which is part of the larger Omega Center project of critically examining thirty Mega Urban Transport Projects (MUTPs) and the planning, appraisal, and evaluation approaches in order to determine their impacts in the developed countries (Australasian Centre for the Governance and Management of Urban Transport, 2010). CityLink is a 22k roadway project that primary aim of relieving congestion in the Melbourne city center, particularly by connecting the current radial highways to the town’s urban and residential streets (Lay and Daley, 2002, p. 262). The desired outcome of this mega project is to create an improved urban environment and an enhanced access for industry to various forms of transportation, including port, rail, and airport (Australia, I.P., 2006). Critical analysis of the planning, appraisal and evaluation approaches utilized in the project is expected to ascertain what entails a “successful project” from the lens of the rapidly changing world that is increasingly stress the practice of sustainable development as a basis for evaluating future development (Mizuta, Roberts, Jacobsen and Thompson, 2014). This case study identifies four lessons that we can and adopt in order to improve project risk management to avert failure and enhance the chances of project success.

The first positive lesson is the incorporation a heuristic ramp-metering coordination (HERO). Ramp metering is an effective approach employed in freeway management and operations that organizations utilize to run the current freeway network at optimal potential (Papamichail, I., Papageorgiou, Vong and Gaffney, 2010, p.12). I find this strategy more relevant in mitigating or managing risks associated with freeways. I attribute this statement to the idea that effective handling of ramp metering systems results to integration with related processes and activities that can promote excellent management of the freeway network. Such activities can include road weather management and incident management, which call for nonstop and active monitoring to foster optimized freeway network performance.

The ultimate outcome of incorporating HERO as a risk management tool is a system that will not only enhance mobility, reliability and safety on the road, but further reduce adverse environmental impacts (Mizuta et al., 2014). This is coupled with improved preservation of freeway capacity at a relatively lower cost compared to the conventional capacity improvement models (Papamichail et al., 2010, p. 17). The current unprecedented growth of metropolitan regions and the fastening fiscal budget justify the need for effective and resource viable freeway regulation techniques and strategies. This observation makes ramp metering a potential tool for to that project risk managers can learn to apply in resolving the menace of congestion and safety concerns. Besides that, HERO can be customized to meet the demands and goals of a certain transportation system based on the needs and opportunities of a region. For instance, CityLink project seeks to relieve congestion and enhance safety on the Melbourne freeway network. Other goals that the tool can help achieve are environmental effects, increased mobility, reliability and quality of urban life. These benefits depict the tool as effective in boosting the success of project risk management (Mizuta et al., 2014).

Additionally, one can derive valuable insights from the environmental monitoring process the CityLink project use. For the project, environmental monitoring is a successful tool for ensuring environmental responsibility as well as sustainable development of the whole project. As a project risk management approach, environmental monitoring can be employed to mitigate adverse environmental consequences resulting from project activities. In particular, the project agencies conducted baseline studies of the Melbourne CityLink environment that involved observation, gathering and communication of data to relevant project stakeholders (GAMUT, 2010). Moreover, the process entailed analysis of water, air, soil, noise and other variables that could be impacted by the project. These processes helped the project team to identify environmentally responsible and sustainable practices. The CityLink project is a multimillion project which might bring about factors that may potentially harm the surrounding environment as well as the local community. Nonetheless, the environmental monitoring process allowed them to ensure that the transportation project that will be delivered complies with existing policies, practices and regulations like the Melbourne City Link Act 1995 (Australia, 2006). From this project risk management process, we can learn that environmental monitors not only play a crucial role in advocating for the environment, but also contribute immensely to scientific research.

These studies help in developing a baseline for environmental impact assessment like water, air, soil and noise pollution. By analyzing air, water, and soil samples, project risk managers are able to identify critical short- and long-term consequences of projects and the impact they might bear on a certain location. Besides that, the project employed environmental monitoring to enhance accountability and transparency among various stakeholders, such as the legislative agencies and the local community. With regards to laws and policies, project managers are expected to demonstrate that their projects will obliterate local systems (Australia, 2006). Incorporation of environmental monitoring in the project proves that the project abides by existing environmental regulatory standards.

The third valuable takeaway is the effective implementation of cost benefit analysis (CBA) to determine the viability of the project. As a project risk management tool, CBA was utilized to assess the value of the CityLink project to determine if its benefits outweigh the costs. Other than determining the viability of the project, CBA can also be employed to prepare a comprehensive benefit and cost portfolio of the project to determine the returns of the whole project to the major stakeholders. In the discussion of this tool, I would like to articulate its benefits that project risk managers can adopt in their practices and processes. First, CBA is comparatively simple as it simplifies complex project decisions. As a mega urban transport project, CityLink vastly different types of resources, costs, and details.

Nonetheless, effective application CBA can frame all these details into common simple variable: total benefits, less total costs to derive the net benefit. This simplicity can let project managers to compare projects and alternative courses of action irrespective of their differences. When conducted quantitatively, it becomes very easy to perceive the cost benefit as the dollar. For example, the CityLink project compared the dollar value of the benefits against the costs incurred in the project (Austraila, I.P., 2006). This process provided marked clarity that can ensure every project team member understands the monetary nature of the undertaking and the need for its continuance. Also, CBA can present an objective way of comparing projects based on their actual financial costs and benefits that can help project managers overcome emotional predispositions and biases that might expose the project to negative risks.

Finally, community consultation constitutes an imperative lesson that I believe if effectively considering in project planning and implementation can result in successful project risk management. before actual commencement of the project, the Victorian government prepared and presented directions for seeking private sector investment in the project (Lay and Daley, 2002, p. 267). Through the Ministry of Planning, a Consultative Committee and mandated to do the following:

  • Create opportunities for all interested and impacted parties to provide idea and recommendations, air their concerns about the project, and be aware of the significance, challenges, suggested solutions and alternatives.

  • Ensure the EES articulated all concerns and matters regarding to social, environmental and economic consequences

  • Make all stakeholders aware of the project details to enable them decode the extent of their participation

  • Guarantee that the EES sincerely reflects and considers issues raised by the community to enable the minimum performance standards created for the initiative safeguards road users as well as the local impacted (GAMUT, 2010, p. 30-34).

Today there is a paradigm shift from the traditional, top-down approach or project implementation where stakeholders (individuals directly affected by a project) were never involved, to a hybrid approach where both project agencies consult the immediate victims or beneficiaries of project. Word-of-mouth feedback from stakeholders was perceived of least strategic significance. However, as depicted in the terms and issues of the Consultative Committee, stakeholder input shape the success of projects. The consultation process was not limited to the public sector, but also stretched to the local community as the project was expected to directly and indirectly affect the locals.

The committee held grassroots information meetings and forums, distributed bulletins and information sheets, met with councils, organized individual, group, departmental and authority meetings, and presented displays of schemes (GAMUT, 2010, p.30-31). As a result, consultation was able to: Identify and monitor demands and expectations; Identify and monitor perceptions and attitudes; Offer feedback on particular planned developments; and Evaluate project activities and processes.

Therefore, a project consultation process guarantees all stakeholders the opportunity to invest in the project infrastructure, access important information as well as provide essential feedback. The stakeholders, especially the local community, can leverage this opportunity to educate the project team about the project context, raise issues and potential threats/risks for the project, make enquiries, and potentially assist shape the project by providing recommendations that the team can mind and respond to. I highly recommend that all project managers to consider the value of stakeholder consultation and the significance of incorporate stakeholders’ issues, concerns and suggestions as these can enhance the success of project risk management and mitigation. In a nutshell, the benefits of a comprehensive consultation include:

  1. Informed decision making processes

  2. Greater stakeholder satisfaction with the project outcome

  3. Successful project planning and implementation

  4. Responsible and sustainable project delivery

Tools and Techniques for Risk Management

Budgeting

The first risk management tool I found more vital in the course of this unit study is budgeting. In “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowldege (PMBO), Duncan (1996) holds that budgeting is a critical component in the planning and implementation of major business projects. Equally, John Goodpastures (2003) confirms that without a well developed project budget, development projects can fail to succeed and abandoned on the way. Budgeting is a relatively simple cost control technique, considering the idea that budgets can be either fixed or flexible, based on the industry in which the project is implemented as well as access to extra income avenues. In project risk management, budgeting is best used at the start of the project cycle as well as during the project delivery phases. Nonetheless, budgeting offers several benefits or advantages that facilitate the success of project risk management.

First, budgeting is serves a guide of action as it establishes guidelines for accomplishing set goals and objectives. Having a well-planned budget can allow project managers to draft the major goals and objectives a project should strive to attain. Some projects can be extremely all-encompassing and striving to realize too much. In this scenario, having a good budget in place can allow project team to limit the range of alternative at hand. The absence of such budgetary restriction can compromise efforts invested to complete the project on time or at all in the event financial resources become limited. Instead, this tool can enable the project manager to understand the amount of money that required for completing a certain area of the project.

Second, budgeting is an effective technique for cost estimating. Once a budget has been developed, the project manager access all the component and details of the project that are crucial in determining the estimated amount of funding that is needed for full implementation of every aspect of the project. Also, the budget processing can allow the project personnel in charge of outsourcing materials to determine the particular proportion of the available money can be allocated to the parts of the project itself. This result in the chance to determine the feasibility of the project based on the available budget.

Furthermore, budgeting provides a basis for assessing the performance of the project. It is an integral component of the cost control and review procedure in the sense that they help project team to define project goals and targets to be realized, and for performance to be evaluated against.

Another benefit of budgeting to the project risk management process is that it gives project managers the ability to prioritize the various constituents and activities of the project. Budgeting exerts pressure and inspire project managers to perform timely analyze the relative importance of every part or process of the project. This cultivates a sense of caution and responsibility among project personnel and management. Furthermore, it offers an essential means of controlling project expenditure as it is a “plan for spending” (Thiry, 2010). These factors enable project managers prioritize project activities to help complete the project within the available funding constraints.

However, the following issues can limit the effectiveness of this technique:

  1. Budgeting is more of a art than science because it employs estimates and judgment which are completely accurate and might not forecast the future.

  2. The effectiveness and value of budgeting is dictated by the quality of collaboration and engagement of all top managers and other stakeholders. Thus, if people fails to invest and focus their energy according to the plan can adversely impact its success.

  3. The planning and development of budgets are time consuming as it needs comprehensive analysis of each project activities and appropriate allocation of resources. Therefore, those in charge of budgeting need to have a better knowledge of the philosophy, principles, and objectives of budgeting.

  4. Budgets are bureaucratic as both the management and field personnel have to stick to budgetary guidelines and details.

Forecasting

Forecasting is used in project risk management primarily to anticipate potential threats, opportunities, and outcomes for the project over a given period (Goodpasture, 2003). Forecasting encompasses both qualitative observations and quantitative methods which can help project managers to determine the alternatives they should pursue to achieve desired outcomes and evade possible unsuccessful situations based on those forecasts. This technique is best used in project risk management at the planning phase of the project to systematically anticipate potential outcomes, failures and successes.

Forecasting has several pros to project risk management. Project managers utilize different types of forecasting tools to assess likely favorable and unfavorable outcomes arising from project decisions and courses of actions. The most critical advantage of this technique is that it offers the project with critical data and information that project managers can utilize to make informed decisions regarding the project future. It employs qualitative data that is generated from the experience and expert judgment of competent project managers and other personnel (Duncan, 1996). Additionally, quantitative forecasting approaches have the advantage of depending on past data to make projections. In a nutshell, project managers can blend quantitative analyses and expert judgment to develop essential forecasts.

However, this tool is limited by the fact that, just like other methods of future prediction, it cannot present absolutely accurate forecasts (Goodpastures, 2003). No individual or statistical tool can absolutely certain about what may unfold in the future. In fact, the occurrence of an uncertain event can render forecasting ineffective, irrespective of the quality of data relied on. Besides that, the technique is further drawn back by the idea that some forecasting techniques may utilize the same data but yield widely varied outcomes. For example, one forecasting tool can indicate that project costs will increase, while another will indicate that project cost will hold steady using the same data.

Scheduling

Besides proper planning, implementing a project calls for scheduling, a fundamental element of not only effective project management, but also project risk management. As a responsible project manager it is imperative to create a clearly defined schedule so that he and the rest of the project workforce can accomplish their goals (Indelicato, 2006). Also referred to project management software, project scheduling tools are specifically designed to assist project team to organize and manage projects with marked efficiency (Duncan, 1996). While some of these tools basically aid in organization, others can be applied in planning and monitoring all parts of the project. Nonetheless, different scheduling tools have different pros and cons, hence it is imperative to choose one that suits a given circumstance.

Advantages of project scheduling tools include:

  • They are characterized by tight time frame and deadlines which keep project team on track as they are expected to complete their assignments within the defined schedule.

  • Scheduling large projects into segments make them more manageable and identify potential opportunities and threats. It enables individuals to focus on smaller goals rather than the ultimate outcome, which motivates them to consistently accomplish tasks as opposed to slowly struggling toward the end.

  • Scheduling facilitating tracking of costs ensuring efficient management. When scheduling, all the estimated materials needed to accomplish each step are listed and the overall cost of the project is calculated. As the project is implemented, the managers can monitor whether they are sticking to the approximated costs, make necessary adjustments and examine alternative options in the event the initial course of action fails to deliver.

  • It helps in monitoring and preparation for unexpected events as a thorough schedule of events constraints multiple alternatives become the project has single articulated course of action with other backup alternatives. If the fir

  • It streamlines communication as all team members have a common reference in case of confusion or role conflicts.

Disadvantages of Project Scheduling

  • Scheduling is considerably less flexible as the project cannot deviate to other alternative courses of action

  • Tight deadlines can exert more pressure on the team compromising their commitment and morale and causing conflicts.

Quality Management

Quality Management entails a comprehensive initiative to enhance quality at all phases and areas of a project. The tool if based on the premise that stakeholders or target customers want quality thus the whole project team must pursue utmost quality (Thiry, 2010). It can improve the quality of project outcomes as well as help project managers to mitigate potential threats to the project leading, which enhanced success of project risk management. Quality management in project risk management is best done at all levels of project implementation and delivery.

  • It fosters a cycle of continuous improvement. This denotes a management approach whereby each individual plays a significant role, every project aspect is subject to adjustment and the demands of the target audience are the driving force.

  • It allows managers to delegate responsibilities and decisions among the team members which motivate them to deliver quality in their respective sphere.

  • It reduces cost of quality. Realizing high quality in a project necessitates comprehensive project risk mitigation and appraisal. Poor quality is a risk to the project because it causes risks like rework, that might be highly costly. Therefore, quality management is an effective project risk management tool that project managers can invest in to mitigate and appraise costs in order to prevent quality related risks. The process helps managers to build quality into project processes and systems to lower the risks of quality failures.

  • It facilitates achievement of project objectives by fostering stability, reliability and optimal performance of techniques, systems, and resources employed in the project.

Challenges of Quality Management

  • It may need employee training which is an additional cost

  • It can be limited by time and resources

  • It is subject to change resistance especially where the project manager stresses risk detection as opposed to mitigation.

Delphi Technique

In this group consensus technique, either a cost estimation software expert or team of experts is consulted to employ their knowledge and experience of the project at hand to approximate the cost of the project. A Wideband Delphi technique can offer a relatively wide communication bandwidth for the team to share the amount of information required to calibrate their approximations with those of their colleagues.

The advantages of this technique include:

  • The expert can factor in variations between historical project experience and the demands of the present project

  • Experts can factor in project consequences caused by new technologies, architectures, and languages used in new projects as well as excellent personal attributes,

The limitations are:

  • It cannot be quantified

  • It is difficult to document variables utilized in the expert judgment

  • It is subject to expert bias, optimism, and pessimism

  • It merely compliment other cost estimation tools and methods like algorithmic approach

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