Before I close my series of posts on project risk I thought I should address a related topic: project opportunity. Risk management is concerned with potential unplanned events that impact a project negatively. In contrast, opportunity can have a positive affect on the project. Moreover, project opportunity should be managed in broadly the same way as project risk.
Project opportunity is the possibility that the project may go better than planned.
As with risk, you should address opportunities at the beginning of the project since they may influence project outcomes and the project plan. Therefore look for opportunities during the later part of a risk workshop (see addressing risks under Project Risk.
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill
Opportunity is the other side of the risk coin. When addressing risk you may find that there’s an opportunity to start some work immediately―taking an upgrade off the critical path, for instance.
Likewise, some aspects of a project can go really well but bring no real benefit because other work is still to be done.
When considering about project opportunity think about what happens when things do go well and consider starting other work earlier in the schedule if this will bring forward a major milestone or implementation date.
There’s rarely enough time to discuss every risk or opportunity when managing a project. Therefore―to help you make the right choices―always document risks and project opportunity and categorise them according to likelihood and impact. Record opportunities in a project opportunity log (or within the risk log.) And review regularly!
As with risk consider amending your plans when major opportunities arise and always prepare an outline contingency plan for all but minor opportunities.
Do you manage risk and project opportunity? Or do you leave things to chance?
Creative Commons image courtesy Tim Green.