Sunday, September 26, 2010

Risk v. Issue

I recently had a conversation in which I was asked if a budget "constraint" should be identified on a risk register. I answered this way:

"I make the distinction between an issue and a risk, because the methodology for each is different. Different methods are motivated by different time frames.

Issues: current time, present problem. Methods include problem investigation, problem solving, and conflict resolution, among others [These methods are not not normally in Risk Mgmt; see Six Sigma for excellent problem investigation protocols]

Risks: future time, probable problem, but not certain. Amenable to mitigation. Methods include response planning and mitigation actions to implement plan to mitigate occurrence of problem, not solve the problem itself.

So, depending on the timing of the budget constraint, it is either an issue or a risk. Ordinarily, PMs keep a register for issues separate from the register for risk because of different temporal attributes and different methods in the tool box.

And, the constraint may only be a surrogate for the real risk. The "real risk" may be a misalignment between sponsor and PM of--or about--deliverable value, or expected result. This is a point of the Project balance sheet, and Utility.

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