Risk Management in Project Execution

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Introduction

Risks are a definite part of every project, and thus risk management is a vital part of project execution. The success of a project is greatly affected by how the risks are managed. Asphalt resurfacing is a tricky exercise considering how much care and attention has to be exerted into it. The project has numerous risks, as well as opportunities, which can and should be exploited. When coming up with a risk management plan for such a project, it is imperative to note that the risks must be taken and that their value is much less than the consequences of abandoning the project entirely. This paper examines the risks, opportunities, applicable considerations, as well as the possible approaches that may help in this project execution exercise.

The Risks

The project at hand is resurfacing a driveway with new asphalt. For success in such a project, various factors must be carefully considered. The project entails disruption of day to day habits like using the driveway. This is one absolutely unavoidable avenue for a risk or an assumption in that one would assume that everyone would steer clear of the driveway, until after some considerable amount of time has passed to avoid dragging the tar into the house. This implies that the first associated risk involves soiling the house with tar from the new asphalt in the driveway.

In his analysis, Horine, G. (2012) established that unpredictable weather patterns can affect certain nature of projects. Based on this project, weather will be another risk. Rain is not good for new asphalt on the driveway, and neither is hot weather. Thus, this leaves the option of resurfacing when the weather is seemingly perfect. Thirdly, depending on the reasons behind the decision to resurface the driveway, it would be important to understand why the initial asphalt is no longer good enough. Understanding the reasons behind the failure of the first project ensures that the current project is insured against the same circumstances. This is because not knowing, why the old asphalt failed, leaves the new asphalt vulnerable to the same incidents that affected the old surface.

In addition, depending on the topography of the area, the sloping of the driveway is a risk in itself. The asphalt must slope towards the street or drainage channel so that runoff water does not get into the house or the neighbor's garage. The risk here is that if the driveway is not sloped with this in mind it might have to be redone as soon as the rains start.

Sources of Uncertainty

From the above mentioned risks, the sources of uncertainty clearly are uncontrollable to the project manager. The weather is very crucial to the project's success and thus the timing has to be perfect. However, there is always the risk of unforeseen changes in weather patterns at one point in time or another. Thus, the project remains vulnerable to some extent. Another source of uncertainty is the way the initial surfacing was done (Hollman, 2012). In seeking to establish the weaknesses of the first asphalt, it is important to know what exactly was done so that the root cause of the weaknesses can be ascertained. In case, the contractor who took care of the initial work cannot be contacted to provide accurate information, there will be a lot of uncertainty surrounding the cause of weakness in the original asphalt layer.

Opportunities

Once decision to resurface the driveway has been made, it is important to note that the failing driveway can be easily corrected permanently hence making it last much longer than the initial one. Thus, this project is an opportunity to fix the driveway permanently and avoid future failure. The decision presents an option of fixing the initial layer before commencing with the resurfacing.

Applicable Considerations

Considering the risks involved in resurfacing a driveway with new asphalt, the applicable considerations for project success include perfect timing in terms of the weather, as well as a possible relocation or vacation for the occupants of the house in question. Also, it would be wise to use a contractor with extensive knowledge and understanding of the area's topography. After determining the risks involved in resurfacing the driveway, the typical thing to do will be addressing the uncertainties. In this case, however, most of the uncertainties are not entirely removable given the nature of the risk factors. The project manager thus has to focus on the removable uncertainties like the cause of the initial failure in the driveway. If this is not possible, it would be a good idea to consider a complete tear out as the resurfacing would only allow covering a faulty foundation, and thus it will not last long.

Risk Management Approaches

The first option that is considering that the project will be undertaken with the help of an expert is risk sharing. The contractor should be able to guarantee the success of the project and, in case of any mishaps, he should be willing to cover the extra costs incurred. Once such an agreement is reached, the risk can be considered as absolutely managed (SOW guide, 2008).

However, this is not always possible. In some instances, the contractor simply comes in to work under instructions, and thus it is not practical for them to assume responsibility for failure in the execution of the contract. In such a case, the first typical approach is to create a value for the risk and weigh it against abstinence. Resurfacing the driveway might lead to soiling the flooring in the house, but ignoring the failing driveway will lead to the need of a complete tear out in the near future. This is, in most instances, far more expensive and thus best prevented. Alternatively, outsourcing could also help to mitigate the risks. A real estate developer or community association manager would gladly oversee this project and even take over the risks given that they will be exclusively responsible for the project execution and hence the results, as well.

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As the project execution advances, it is advisable to be responsive to changes rather than sticking to the initial plan. The management should be spontaneous and willing to adapt to the changing needs of the project. In this instance, bad weather may over stretch the time constraints of the project execution. It would be better to accept the delay and freeze activity until the weather clears out, rather than insist on meeting the pre-planned deadline. (Project Management Institute, 2004).

Conclusion

Resurfacing the driveway requires extensive knowledge on why the initial surfacing did not last. Usually it is because it was not firm enough, although there could be other reasons, as well. This means that assumptions are not really welcome as the real root cause of failure is all that is needed to ensure that the same thing does not happen on the resurfaced driveway. To eliminate this risk, it is important to consult with the previous contractor where possible. With regards to the possible risk management approaches, risk sharing is often the ideal, but most elusive option as the professionals are often unwilling to commit themselves. This leaves the option of creating a value for the risk involved and weighing this against the cost of avoiding the entire project. Considering its dependence on weather, this project has absolutely unavoidable risks that must be faced and diminished as much as possible.

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