IBM Connections as a Project Management Tool, Part 5

If you have been following the series (link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4) of articles on using IBM Connections as a Project Management tool, youll be aware that we are working through the Association of Project Managements key components of Project Management. This time were up to:

Managing the Risks, Issues and Changes on the Project

We all want our projects to be successful but of course risks, issues and changes to the project will inevitably occur. How you handle them is critical to how your project proceeds, whether it succeeds, arrives on time or on budget, etc. A good summary of this topic can be found here.

Essentially, you should document, using the wiki we set up in Part 1 which procedures you will follow to handle risks, issues and changes on your project. By using the wiki you can easily share the procedure and handle revisions without having to completely re-publish the document or send round email notifications that something has been updated.

I am not providing advice here about how to manage risks, issues or changes in your project – there are many more qualified sources of information on these topics that you should refer to, such as pmi.org.

I am confident that you will find the combination of wikis and documents in the Connections Community to be more than adequate in general for these topics, however, I want to draw to your attention one technique I have used when handling risks, issues and changes for which Connections is supremely well-suited – the combination of ideation and activities.

Coming back to our summary link on the first paragraph, PM4SD states:

Risks need to be Identified, Assessed, and Controlled taking into account the nature of the risk itself, the project context and complexity, and the objective at risk; furthermore, adequate responses need to be planned and where the case might require it implemented.

We need to identify, assess and control risks. One way to do this is to use an ideation blog to make it easy for anyone to capture risks that they perceive. Let’s start by creating an Ideation Blog in our community:

Give the new Ideation Blog a name, and a brief description, then click on Save:

Your new Risk Identifier Ideation blog is created:

Let’s open it up and create a new Risk:

For illustration I have created a generic risk, relating to the stakeholders of the project:

I have not put very much detail in my risk description but I recommend that as a project manager you ask your team to provide as much information as possible to help you and everyone else fully evaluate the impact of the risk. Once it has been saved, you’ll see something like this:

OK, so we now have a risk recorded, which requires assessment. As the project manager you should monitor this risk list and request assessment from your experts on the project, via the comments:

In the above example I am having a conversation with myself, but I am sure you can see the process that’s going on. By @ mentioning someone, they will be notified of the comment and the request for the response. I have provided a response to my question, which highlights that this is a significant risk.
As part of your project meetings you can also use the Ideation Blog to rank the issues you have according to the perception of the team about which ones require more attention than others. You can do this using the voting functionality.
Ask each of your team members to review the risks documented, and the assessments of the experts you have assigned. If they think this is an issue that needs to be addressed, ask them to press the vote button:

When they have all reviewed the risks, you can use the list of risks, sorted by votes to decide on which risks to take action on:

On a project meeting, decide which risks you need to take action on, perhaps based on the number of votes that each has received. For each one, press the Graduate button which converts this risk into an activity, where you can plan the next steps for handling the risk:

When you graduate the “idea” you see this:

Note that there is now an option to open the activity that has been created for this risk. Let’s open it:

Connections has created the new activity and created a section and brought over the information from the ideation blog and put a link back to the idea in the ideation blog. Nice!

OK, so far we have identified and assessed some risks, but now we need to control it. We’re going to do this by creating a structure in the activity which allows us to track documentation and actions assigned to individuals. If you want a more detailed introduction to activities, take a look back at our meeting management discussion in this part of the series.

To illustrate the use of the Activity to manage the risk, I have set up some sections and added some tasks for people:

You can see here that I have created a To Do item, to review the risk with the Project Director, and given the task a due date to be completed. Often, the project manager might create these To Dos and assign them to different people, with due dates. They would then create sub-To Dos to show what steps they will take to complete this task. Your project management control process would include asking the team member to keep their task list for your delegated To Do up to date, as shown above with the struck-out lines so that you know matters are progressing.

This is a great way of delegating actions for a task and avoiding the need to chase people for a report on the status of their actions. If they just keep their tasks up to date, by marking them as done in this way, then you as the project manager know what the status is.

Join me next time when we look at monitoring progress against plan with Activities again.

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