GEOG 871
Geospatial Technology Project Management

Lesson 8 Introduction


Lesson 8 Introduction-Project Risk Management

Lesson 8 Overview

If project circumstances remained the same from start to finish, GIS managers could prepare a good plan, assign resources, and watch the project run smoothly to completion. But projects are executed in a dynamic environment in which conditions change, and risks are present that can affect timing, cost, scope, methods, and project team members. GIS managers should, therefore, adopt effective practices for change and risk management—with the goal of preparing for changes and risk events and then taking action early to avoid, or at least reduce, negative impacts.

General Dwight Eisenhower was quoted as saying, "In preparing for battle, I have found plans to be useless, but planning to be essential." While your instructor would not agree that plans are useless for GIS projects, Eisenhower's point is that going through the exercise of planning--defining objectives (and deliverables), laying out an approach (WBS), assigning resources, and having in place effective monitoring and communications methods provides an organized basis for executing the project, making adjustments as necessary, and delivering results. Risk management and change management is an important part of project planning and execution.

Except in extreme cases, projects can accommodate changes without major disruption, if project planning anticipates potential impacts and strategies are put in place to respond to them in effective ways. This lesson deals with a critical aspect of project planning and management--proven practices and methods for managing risk and project changes in a way that will keep projects on track and deliver results that meet specifications.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • understand the purpose and basic concepts of risk management and how it is a part of project planning and execution
  • learn how to identify and categorize project risks
  • prepare a risk management matrix including assignment of levels of risk impact and probability
  • understand risk response strategies from the PMI (avoidance, mitigation, transference, and acceptance)
  • carry out a risk analysis including a detailed risk analysis, identification of triggers, and specific risk response actions
  • get familiar with the concepts of "change management" (the "first cousin" of risk management)

See the checklist page for readings, quiz, and assignment work in this Lesson.


If you have any questions or would like to brainstorm ideas, please contact the instructor by phone or email. Also, feel free to communicate with your fellow students via the Discussion Forum or email.