The Importance of Communicating Project Risk

Try as hard as you’d like, but project risk is something that you just aren’t going to be able to eliminate 100%. Projects are huge undertakings with a large number of moving parts – at any given moment, there are a huge number of things that can potentially go wrong.

The key to successful project management will never be in eliminating risk – it’s in communicating risk as effectively as you can. When it comes to the importance of communicating project risk, there are a number of things to keep in mind.

Without Proper Communication, You’re Doomed to Fail

One of the most basic reasons why communicating project risk is so important is because without clear communication channels, the project in general is essentially doomed before it even starts. A failure to properly communicate project risk is akin to sticking your head in the sand and hoping that the problem goes away before you have to face it. Not only will it not go away, but it will probably only get bigger and more severe (and thus more costly) over time if left unchecked.

When you properly communicate risk and similar types of situations, you’re giving your team members the lead time that they need to work up alternate scenarios to address these issues head on. Remember that no project has ever been successful because it was completely free of problems from start to finish. Projects are successful because team members know that these risks are coming and know what must be done to address them in the right way. Without proper communication, you have none of this.

Risk Affects Everybody

When you think about the team members that you’ve assembled for a project, you probably have a diverse group of individuals who are all assigned to different tasks and yet are all working on the larger goal. If you see clear signs of an upcoming issue that will directly affect “Employee A,” remember that this isn’t the only impact that you’re about to face. A delay with “Employee A” means that “Employee B,” “Employee C” and “Employee D” will also be negatively affected in some way at the same time.

As a result, proper risk communication becomes even more important than it was originally. Failure to notify your team that something is amiss won’t just affect the person that is directly impacted. You’ll be jeopardizing the progress of everyone else on the team at the same time, leading to much more costly issues moving forward.

Many project managers make the mistake of assuming that their job is to eliminate risk whenever possible. This line of thinking isn’t just contrary to the reality of the situation, but it can actually be detrimental to the success of the project as a whole. Only by properly communicating project risk to you have a hope of coming in on time, on budget and above and beyond customer satisfaction.

Key Takeaways:

  • Risk is something that you will truly never be able to completely eliminate from a project.
  • Communicating project risk is one of the most important aspects of a project manager’s job on a daily basis.