Plan Risk Responses

With excerpts from my Project Management Novel, I will illustrate the many processes of the PMBOK.  Here is the twenty-second one: Plan Risk Responses. Use this map to see how this process fits into the scheme of processes.  21 Plan Risk Responses

After Vespers the men gathered in the common room again to start dealing with all the risks. Fred and Bleddyn had rewritten the Risk Register in order of Risk Total with the question of the statues heading the list.

“Today we need to plan our responses to the risks we have identified and qualified. There are four possible responses. We ‘Avoid’ the risk by not doing the risky part of the scope of this project. For example: If we don’t want access doors in the tower walls to weaken the structure, we could choose to eliminate these doors and provide access only from the top or bottom of the walls.”

“You can ‘Mitigate’ the risk by doing something to lower the probability of it occurring or the severity if it does occur. Putting a tent over the hole won’t lower the probability of it raining but it will lower the severity of rainfall on the foundation hole.”

“Third, you can ‘Transfer’ the risk by paying someone on the outside of this team to do a risky activity for you. You would do that by hiring someone to do something you are not skilled in. Seasoning wood or cutting stone for example. They take on the risk and have to deal with the consequences if it arises.”

“Lastly, you can ‘Accept’ a risk if it will cost more to mitigate it than it will cost if the risk comes true. We’re more likely to ‘Accept’ risks near the bottom of this list.”

“So let’s start at the highest risk and work our way down. The first risk is that the new statues will wear down quickly like the old statues did. Who can tell me about that?”

Abbot Crawford stepped forward. “Most of the statues were made during my stay here. Joseph of Arimathea’s statue had always stood in the church and was as old as the church, several hundred years. The same goes for the statues of Jesus, Joseph, Mary and Mary Magdalene. But about twenty years ago we had a donation to create twelve more statues, one for each of the apostles, along with the request to put them outside, on the steeple. Soon after we did so, they started to wear down. We believe it is due to the weather.”

“All right,” said Gwilym. “The statues are part of the scope of this project so we cannot avoid the risk, correct?” All the monks nodded. “And we cannot accept the risk either, right?” More nods. “Can we transfer this risk to someone else?”

The monks were lost in deep thought until Father Drew broke the silence. “I do not see how we can transfer this risk. No matter who erects the statues in the new steeple, they will be exposed to whatever elements caused them to wear down last time. We are responsible for their care. Unless one of us knows of some person or group who has more experience taking care of statues. Someone who has seen this problem before and will ensure that they do not wear.”

Gwilym spoke up. “I have toured Rome and have seen many marble statues that have been exposed to hundreds, even thousands of years of outside exposure and they have not worn like yours have in twenty years. There were no caretakers of these statues. Are we sure they were made of marble?”

“See for yourself tomorrow,” he was told.

“So it appears we must mitigate this risk. We need to reduce the probability of the wear taking place again or the severity of the wear on the project.”

Father Drew spoke again, “If they wear the same way, the severity will be the same. We must reduce the probability somehow.”

The rest of the monks agreed. “Any ideas on reducing the probability of these statues wearing down?” asked Gwilym.

There was a studied silence. “Then let’s leave this risk for later study and move on to the next risk.”

They worked for the next few hours, finding solutions to reduce probability or severity in some risks, transferring others, avoiding a few until they came down to the more minimal risks. After choosing to accept ten risks in a row, Gwilym made an announcement.

“There are fifty more risks, all with a Risk Total lower than the last ten we accepted. Is it fair to assume we will accept all of these risks as well?”

A cheer arose from the monks who were getting anxious as Compline approached.

“Good. Then I suggest we break now. I’ll see you in the morning again and we’ll restart work on the tower. Tomorrow, after Vespers, we’ll meet again here to add activities to the project plan that came out of these mitigated, avoided and transferred risks. Good night brothers, father.”

Risk Plan 6