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How Team Members Can Integrate Risk Management into Their Jobs

Introduction

Risk Management is one of the greatest concerns of multi-nationals and businesses which is a practice that involves the processes of identifying, assessing and prioritizing risks within the business and/or corporation. After these processes, the concept then requires that resources are coordinated and applied to the results obtained from the analysis to help reduce, monitor and control the chances and impact of the damages that the unfortunate events suscept the business/corporation to (Rescher, 1983). All areas of specialization are affected by risks of some sort and therefore it is necessary that such areas are suspected to formidable and well-planned risk management initiatives to reduce the risks that various assets and resources of such entities are threatened. This paper describes a project that was undertaken by my company which is a defense contractor that is specifically concerned with the way various teams involved in the project can incorporate risk management concepts in their duties that they carry out during the project. Of keen interest for this discussion will be nuclear scientists and engineers working on the project.

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Project Description

The following is a short description of the project that my company is handling with me as the project coordinator. This is a defense contractor that recently won a bid from the Defense Department (DoD) Request for Proposal (RFP) entitled “Automated Mobile Defense System” (AMDS) (Porteous & Pradip, 2005). As the new project manager at the helm of leadership of this project dubbed Project X, I am responsible for managing the entire project and this entails overseeing the designing, developing, testing, demonstrating and deploying 10 AMDS units to a location that will be determined by the DoD, assuming a successful demonstration. This project will take at least 5 years before it is completed and will cost $1.5 billion. The success of Project X is critical to the growth of the company since the DoD has committed to order 150 more AMDS units at a price of $10 million per unit if the AMDS demonstration is successful and meets all of their quality expectations.

From the reviews of the RFP and the statement of works (SOW), it is evident that this project will be complex. The design for this particular AMDS consists of a Mobile Housing Unit (MHU) which contains 20 anti-ballistic missiles (ABMs). It is based on a totally new design that is called the Anti-Missile Control Computer (AMCC). It is used to target and deploy the ABMs automatically. A retrofitted detection device (code name: SKYEYE) built on proven, patented radar technology owned by the company is also part of it. All of these devices will be contained in the MHU, which will be designed to be an 18-wheel tractor-trailer that is enhanced in addition of it being automatic as well as being portable due to the solar-charged batteries for the AMCC and self-contained power sources for the ABMs. On-site maintenance should only be needed on rare occasions in the event of natural disasters that are unforeseen occurring like earthquakes, tornados, ice storms, etc. If the need arises, military personnel will be responsible for moving the AMDS to another secret location that will be a reserve of their secretive intelligence. Inasmuch as it was not included in the design accepted by the DoD, the company would like to make it possible to provide additional capability with the system: it would like the AMDS to be able to operate while it is being moved.

The team which I am heading for this project consists of over a dozen of nuclear scientists, engineers and technology professionals. Many of this personnel are well aware of the rudiments of project management. As a project manager, I recognize project risk management is everybody’s business and in this regard I intend to have them incorporate project risk management into their roles and responsibilities.

Integration of Risk Management Concepts into team Members’ Performance and Roles

For this project, the members of the team that will be discussed how they can integrate risk management into their jobs are nuclear scientists and engineers. This being a business project that is heavily dependent on the professionalism that is required to certify their acceptability and standards of operations, there are intrinsic risks that are associated with it and need to be addressed if the entire project is to be flawless or have some level of flawlessness (Porteous & Pradip, 2005). “There are inherent risks that exist which can be defined as those risks that occur naturally in the workplace or in business but do not constitute the core areas of the business; usually these inherent risks have a negative effect on the operations of the business especially as regards its profit returns” (Porteous & Pradip, 2005, p. 25).

Project X is a multifaceted project that requires the operation and involvement of many personnel to accomplish and this makes it difficult to adequately eschew all forms of risks. It is a highly technologically defined project requiring ardent and astute designing and preparation so as to enable it to be done properly (Kendrick, 2003). The challenges and risks that the nuclear scientists would face for this project involve acquisition of the resources that would enable them to adequately handle their complex duties for the project and this has a bearing of the fluctuation in banking rates and terms for accessing the financial facilities they offer their clients (Kendrick, 2003). It is a risk that emanates from the top management of the company and its mobilization of resources especially since nuclear ingredients are deer and hard to come by and therefore may require financial institutions to step in and assist in funding (Kendrick, 2003). These risks that may prompt sporadic systemic crises include risks of liquidity, credit risk and risks in interest rates. In settling growth strategies, the current economic trends pose great challenges for financial institutions (Kendrick, 2003). These risks are of concern to the nuclear scientists especially as regards the acquisition of the resources they need (Flyvbjerg, Nils & Werner, 2003). These risks are of concern to the nuclear scientists especially as regards the acquisition of the resources they need (Flyvbjerg, Nils & Werner, 2003).

Engineers should be able to design the entire project and have all the necessary standardization specifications looked into and approved. There are many regional and international agencies that have stipulated regulations and standards that the project should adhere to in totality (Flyvbjerg, Nils & Werner, 2003). It is the obligation of the engineers to ensure that these requirements are well looked into and effectively adhered to. This is closely related to the work that the nuclear scientist is charged with and insights that I find imperative for the assessment of risks related to the project can be discussed in the following headings (Flyvbjerg, Nils & Werner, 2003). It is this discussion that helps to establish a clear way in which risk management can be integrated in these personnel’s working and specific roles. The summary that discusses this integration has been categorized into what is called The Time Critical and is composed of three steps:

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Assessment of the situation

The three conditions that are incorporated in this phase are additive conditions, task loading, and human factors where: “additive factors- is a term that is used to refer to having what is called a situational awareness of the variables’ cumulative effect; task leading- is a term that is used to refer to the negative effect that is realized on the increased tasking of the performance of the tasks; human factors- is a term that is used to refer to the limitations of the ability (or inability) of the human mind and body so as to adapt to the work environment such as fatigue, stress, impairment, confusion, attention lapse and violation of regulations willfully” (Flyvbjerg, Nils & Werner, 2003, p. 116).

Balancing of Resources

This reference is important for the risk management for the above personnel in three broad ways: “capacity to balance resources and options that are available- this refers to the evaluation and leveraging of all of the informational, equipment, labour and material resources that are available within the company; balancing of resources in comparison to the hazards that are foreseeable- this actually means estimation of how well prepared one is to safely accomplish a given task and be able to make a judgment call; balancing individual effort against team effort- this means observation of risk warning signs at individual level and observation of how well a given team is able to communicate within itself, is able to properly understand the roles that each member of the team is supposed to play and also the stress level for each member and their respective participation level” (Hillson, 2007, p. 211).

This aspect of balancing individual effort versus team effort is one area of risk management that both engineers and nuclear scientists assigned to this project have to adequately put in place so that they are not taken aback. The derailing that is may be caused by this may also negatively affect their performance thereby slowing down the entire process (Porteous & Pradip, 2005). Given their professional training that creates in them some form of self-sufficiency, scientists and engineers are likely to struggle with cooperation with other team members and this may bring friction in the operation of the team and general running posing the risk of putting the success of the entire project in jeopardy (Porteous & Pradip, 2005).

Communication risks and intentions

The areas of interest here are: “communication hazards and intentions; communication to the right people within the project; using the correct communication style to convey information such as open communication which involves asking direct questions and such styles as forceful and direct asking of questions is a good style but is only applicable for specific situations” (Porteous & Pradip, 2005).

Conclusion

In conclusion, integration of risk management as a component into the total project management approach is important for the good that it creates for the working team. For whatever form of work, it is important that the personnel working on a given project are well acquainted with the risks that may be associated with their areas of interest so as they can be well prepared to take care of the challenges that the risks that may be thrust their way (Porteous & Pradip, 2005). This is not any different for the working on the above described Project X since it prepares the personnel to foresee incidents which can adversely affect their operation. It is not enough for the personnel and the leadership of a project management team to know of the foreseeable risks that are posed to their project at given circumstances since there is no satisfaction that can be realized from such knowledge if there is no formidable preparation of dealing with the problem in question (Flyvbjerg, Nils & Werner, 2003). Risk management approach equips the leadership and the management with adequate preparedness and skills to presuppose areas of threat and come up with approaches that help in the prevention of the same. It is in this regard therefore that engineers and nuclear scientists that are involved in this project have been chosen as persons that are instrumental in the successful running of the project and the role they play in the project is discussed in the view of how the approach of risk management can be applied to their working obligations.

References

Flyvbjerg, B., Nils B., & Werner, R. (2003). Megaprojects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hillson, D. (2007). Practical Project Risk Management: The Atom Methodology. Management Concepts, 2 (2), 121-138.

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Kendrick, T. (2003). Identifying and Managing Project Risk: Essential Tools for Failure- Proofing Your Project. AMACOM/American Management Association.

Porteous, B., & Pradip, T. (2005). Economic Capital and Financial Risk Management for Financial Services Firms and Conglomerates. Palgrave Macmillan.

Rescher, N. (1983). A Philosophical Introduction to the Theory of Risk Evaluation and Measurement. University Press of America.

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