Do you control your projects or do they control you?

“A tree as great as a man’s embrace springs from a small shoot;
A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles starts under one’s feet.”

Lao-Tse – Tao Te Ching

It is a lot easier to face a problem when it is in an early stage than when it has grown too much. So, this shows us one of the most important attributes of a good project manager: proactivity.
A project manager’s work should not focus on dealing with problems, it should focus on preventing them. We must manage the risks of a project, but how can we do it more efficiently? It is not possible to preview everything.

In my opinion, we must be prepared and have:

A system

A system, for instance, like the one explained in the PMBoK. It is necessary plan to manage risks, to identify them not only in the beginning of a project but during the project too, analyze the identified risks and develop responses. And repeat this process periodically during the life of the project.

Team support

The whole team must participate in the process of identifying risks and planning responses. They are able to help us identify possible problems that the project manager couldn’t imagine.

Communication

That takes me to the third point: good and fluent communication with the team, the client (and/or the Product Owner).
The Project Manager also must contribute to create an environment of confidence amongst the project team so that ideas, problems, risks, solutions, … flow in the team.
Everybody should feel that they can share their thoughts freely and all the important information should flow easily so that the ones who must use it to make decisions have it when they need it.

Tools

And that brings me to the final point: the tools.
We need tools to support communication, plans, assessments, … I have included them in the end because I think they are necessary but they don’t make the system. They make our life easier but they are useless if we do not have a plan and processes to systematically manage risks and we have not created an environment with the team where they feel free and motivated to communicate.

What do you think is more important? What kind of processes do you use in your projects to manage risks? Does the team always help proactively?
Please, share your comments.

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Do you control your projects or do they control you?

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