Importance of Project Risk Identification… Unknown Unknowns (becoming Known Unknowns)

So whilst I have not blogged a lot this since the beginning of the project a lot of work has been going. This blog will attempt to be very frank in an effort to share the experiences as the lead of my first academic grant (which is rather exciting). The project has had an interesting start to say the least.

The JISC project bidding process requires the completion of a grant funding document. This is a proposal of work that enables the funders to determine if the project is a good idea and is viable. There are many components of this proposal one of which is a section on project risk. In August 2011 when I was putting the bid together I identified 7 risks which if they emerged could jeopardise the success of the project. Risks included items such as lack of user engagement; technical problems with data clustering, changes in user requirements and unavailability of the technical developer. These items are fairly standard on a risk register.

Once the proposal was accepted, the next stage of the project management process is to develop a project plan. This is a detailed document, of which a gantt chart is just one component.   Once completed it is made available to the public via the JISC website (the plan for this project is almost completed and will be released in the coming weeks). Again as part of this plan a risk analysis forms a fundamental element. My risk register now contains 20 items including risks associated with: IPR of historical maps, delays in obtaining historical maps due to workload at archives and time constraints of university processes. So now some of the unknown risks are known risks and I can take action reduce their impact when and if they manifest. Maintaining this register, anticipating risk and seeking alternative solutions that rework the work packages accordingly, will ensure the project completes successfully. A forthcoming blog post will share my experience of IPR issues which led to a change in the historic bomb census maps that will be used in the project.

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