15. What are the risks associated with the change that might mean the intended benefits cannot be realised?
16. How can these risks be mitigated or eliminated?
No plan for the future ever comes with a 100 per cent guarantee – there are always uncertainties attached. Risk is the adverse consequence of exposure to uncertainty. Risk management involves identifying the sources of risk, identifying the priorities for attention, and taking steps to eliminate or mitigate the risk. The following example illustrates issues of risk with reference to a technology implementation project.
Box 4: Risk management in an IT project
An organisation decides to put in place a new IT system to help it manage its contacts with customers and to support its marketing activities. The project team decides to buy an off-the shelf package from a reputable supplier, and carry out any customisation needed in-house. The main risks associated with this investment are identified by the project team as:
the package not being flexible enough to allow the extent of customisation they think is required
lacking the internal expertise to carry out the customisation effectively
the sales force not adopting the new working practices (inputting client contact reports into the database) reliably enough for all the intended benefits of the system to be gained.
While these risks cannot be eliminated entirely, the project team decide to build in to the implementation plan the following means of reducing the risk:
getting the supplier to confirm that the intended customisation is feasible, to provide guidance as to how it can be achieved, together with an offer from the supplier to undertake the customisation work to the defined specification (at extra cost) should the organisation wish it after purchase of the package
involving the salesforce as key stakeholders in the development and implementation of the new system from the outset
rollout of the system region by region so that the experiences of users in the first pilot can inform modifications before implementation nationwide.