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Author: David Haynes

Risk exists in all things. It is how we manage that risk that determines if we succeed or not. Just because we can, does not mean we should. We can drive down the freeway at 100 mph without a seatbelt - but I think we agree it would be risky, and the outcome might well be disastrous.


Risk management is the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimize, monitor, and control the probability and/or impact of unfortunate events or to maximize the realization of opportunities  (Wikipedia).

How does risk management apply to services? Many do a 'pray and hope' process regarding possible risks. Some do a 'how did we do it last time' methodology. Some negotiate a fee and then work to fit the service within that fee. All of these options do little to mitigate risk. In fact, I believe they increase risk by inducing a false sense of security or safety.

To mitigate risk, information/communication is the best approach. Both receiving and delivering information is critical. Two key parts (though not the complete answer) to risk mitigation are:

  1. Scoping
  2. Setting Expectations


This is an easy process to by-pass. We have already had discussions with the customer, we don't want to seem unknowledgeable, etc. However, scoping is a very important part of risk mitigation and management. 

Scoping, or project scope statement, is the process of defining the who, what, where, and how of the project. In Project Management Professional (PMP) terms, this process is the developing of a Baseline Scope. 

Here are my best practices in developing Scope:


This part of the process is rarely done enough. Why bother to set expectations? Won't the customer get upset if we set an expectation? Risk mitigation is all about reducing risk, therefore, isn't there a reasonable risk the customer is expecting something different than you are proposing.

What is included in 'setting expectations?’ It is a discussion that outlines what makes a successful project for the customer.

By discussing, documenting, and getting agreement on what the customer expects in a definable way, many headaches that occur at the end of the service delivery are avoided.

There are many aspects to Risk Mitigation, however, Scoping and Setting Expectations is a good starting point and where many service providers stumble.

This post was originally published on David’s blog Connecting the [Data]...

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       David Haynes
David Haynes, NCARB, PMP, LEED AP
Ideate Director of Consulting

David is a Registered Architect, Project Management Certified Professional, who previously had his own architectural practice and was President of a commercial design–build construction company for 15 years. A graduate of University of Arizona, he has worked as an Architect, contractor, developer and as a national construction manager for a national retailer. David currently provides business process analysis, data integration, and change management solutions for AEC clients across the United States involved in the design and construction industry. Follow David on Twitter.