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Monday, July 9, 2012

Communicating Risks to Stakeholders

So far, in the previous chapters, we learnt about risk attitudes and have analyzed the stakeholder risk tolerance. So, the next thing for us to do is “Start communicating” to keep our stakeholders informed of the project progress in terms of risk management.

The PMBOK guide defines a separate process that covers the topic of Managing Stakeholder Expectations. This topic was covered in our PMP prep series in a chapter with the same title Managing Stakeholder Expectations. If you check this process, you will see that the Communications Management Plan which is the output of the Planning Project Communication process is an input. This communications management plan is going to define how we are going to communicate with all our stakeholders.

If you are wondering how, then maybe you forgot about the contents of the communications management plan. I suggest you go back to the chapter on Planning Project Communication and revise the contents of the same. The communication management plan contains stakeholder communication requirements which we will be using along with the Stakeholder Management Strategy to effectively communicate about our project risks.

Most stakeholders will require only high level information regarding risks. They will be typically looking for information like:
a. How accurate the presented information is?
b. Whether there is a potential for gain or loss?
c. Can the risk be managed?
d. What are the recommended responses?
e. What is the impact?
f. Etc.

Along with the above mentioned information you must also be able to provide certain additional information like:

a. Who holds the responsibility for the risk and the related events if the risk were to occur?
b. How often will the risk event occur?
c. What alternates do we have?
d. Etc.

But, as with every communication, there is a problem here. Not everyone wants everything. This is where the Stakeholder Management Strategy and the Communications Management Plan come to our rescue. In these documents we contain details like “Who needs what information” and using that we can try to cater to the varying needs of the different stakeholders in our project.

One last thing about communicating project risks is that, the Risk Management Plan usually contains templates and reporting formats that we must use for the different categories of stakeholders. So, we need to take that into account and ensure that the right reports are sent to the right target audience.

Prev: Stakeholder Risk Tolerance

Next: Section Summary

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