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Project Managment Risk: describe risk preferences and utility curves

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PROBLEM: What is the meaning of risk in project management? Describe the different risk preferences and utility curves of exhibited by project managers. Describe steps in typical risk management process. Explain what options are open to project managers to handle risk.

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Protecting the value of a project involves dealing with the uncertainty that will be associated with its delivery. The role of Project Management is to assist in turning uncertain events and efforts into certain outcomes and promises. If this is the case, then the primary process associated with project management should be that of risk management. How other processes, such as scope, schedule, and spending management support risk management is therefore critical for successful project management and for maximizing the value of our project-based efforts. One of the more recently introduced project management methodologies has at its core a focus on the management of uncertainty and risk.

Critical Chain-based project management has received considerable attention in the Project Management community Most of this attention has been focused on the areas of schedule development and management. But the details of the scheduling methodology -- the critical chain versus the critical path, just-in-time starts replacing as-soon-as-possible starts, the eschewing of task due dates and use of buffers of time to protect the project's promise and monitor its progress -- are only means to an end. Or rather, ends -- speed and reliability of project performance unencumbered by conflicting pressures and behaviors. And reliability of project promises is as much a result of a methodology's ability to support effective risk management, as it is a result of effective planning and scheduling.

Identify and evaluate potential risks
Obtain agreement to action plans to contain risks
Take the actions and monitor the results
Promptly resolve any issues arising from risks that happen.

Recognition of uncertainty and its associated risk are at the core of the initial stages of developing Critical Chain schedules. The emphasis on dependencies in the usual approach to developing a project network for a Critical Chain schedule helps to avoid risks of missing interactions of different parts of the project. The use of 2-point estimates to assess and address the early view of schedule risk associated with task uncertainty sets the tone up front for the appreciation of risk in the real world. In addition to task uncertainty, iteration uncertainty (a topic not written of much to date in the Critical Chain literature) can also be taken into account in the sizing of Feeding and Project Buffers. These resulting buffers themselves become a highly visible and direct assessment of the schedule risk associated with the project as a whole.

Critical Chain-based project management is more than just Critical Chain Scheduling and Buffer Management. The genesis of Critical Chain in the Theory of Constraints (TOC) has yielded a holistic view of project management that provides effective risk-focused approaches not only to scheduling and control, but also to initial scoping and planning, effective resource behaviors, and minimizing cross-project impacts. These key aspects of the methodology have a range of implications for the support of basic risk management processes and outcomes, including identification and assessment of risks, response development -- bit it avoidance, mitigation, or acceptance, and guidance for response control (Pritchard, 1997).

No matter how good a project schedule is or how well resources perform in the execution of tasks in that schedule, if critical dependencies associated with the project are not included in the description of the effort, they represent considerable risk to delivering project value.


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