Some Project Management Tips to Help Offset Murphy’s Law


Whether you are building a building or a computer system or changing process workflow it is likely that Murphy’s Law will provide you with some unexpected challenges. As project manager, one of your duties is to manage the risks associated with these challenges. Your job is to identify, analyze and manage the known and unknown factors that may arise during the course of your project.

Below is a summary of what I believe it takes to get a project off to a good start and then keep it on track:

  •  Clear project sponsor – every project needs a sponsor or stakeholder who really understands the benefits of the project both from an intellectual and emotional point of view. Also the sponsor must have the right level of authority to accept escalated issues and mobilize resources. Just as the word ‘stakeholder’ implies, the sponsor must visualize ‘what is in it’ for him/her.
  •  Potential Risks – the project manager, working with the senior project participants must identify as many as the potential risks as possible. For each risk the team must assign an owner whose job is to determine how to monitor for it and communicate the status and what to do to mitigate the risk.
  •  Analyze the possible effects of the threats being realized – each owner should identify the probability of the threat occurring and the level of severity of its impact on the project. This information is used to prioritize the attention to the risk mitigation efforts.
  •  Planning and Communication – Once the possible effects are understood, clear steps to monitor and mitigate the high impact risks must be clearly defined. The contingency plan for each high impact threat must be owned by specific team members and the risk status should be reviewed on a regular basis.

Rocco Gibaldi, Principal


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