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The Program Manager is responsible for implementing effective risk management within program constraints. Successful risk management requires planning and resourcing, and should be implemented early in the life cycle beginning with the Materiel Solution Analysis (MSA) phase or earlier based on early collaboration among the operational, acquisition, and technology communities. The goal is to identify risks to inform decisions on structure and content, and develop mitigation strategies for the risks that must be addressed to deliver intended capabilities.
The practice of risk management constitutes a significant aspect of program management and draws from all disciplines, including systems engineering, use of models and simulation, requirements definition, developmental and operational test, earned value management (EVM), production planning, quality assurance, and logistics. Risk management needs to be both top-down (program leadership) and bottom-up (from working-level staff members) to be successful. PMs should encourage everyone on their program to take ownership of the risk management program and should be careful not to cultivate a “shoot the messenger” culture. All personnel should be encouraged to identify risks, issues, and opportunities and, as appropriate, to support analysis, mitigation, and monitoring activities.
Making risk management work depends on process, but more importantly on people with knowledge and experience in the disciplines relevant to the product, and with the resolve to identify and address the risks that could influence program objectives. An organizational climate, open to external perspectives, that seeks independent board members for design reviews can strengthen the effectiveness of a program’s risk management. Well-understood requirements flowed to the product, an integrated schedule coupled to earned value management (EVM), an independent cost estimate, and the tenacity to pull on the threads that reveal problems all contribute to prospects for success.
Programs should define, implement, and document an appropriate, tailored risk process. The process should address planning, identification, analysis, mitigation, and monitoring of risks and issues.
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