The Top 3 Project Management Risks & How to Overcome Them

If you’re in project management, then mitigating project risk is something you talk about often.

But how often do we account for risks arising from within our own teams?
There are three project management risks that seem to go under the radar until they cause a major spanner in the works.

In this article, we’re going to explore what these top 3 overlooked risks are, and what we can do as a project team both to recover if they happen and to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Project Management Risks we face within our project teams

While there are many risks that can impact your project, I want to focus on the three most common reasons that risks appear within your project team.

Top Project Risk #1 – Working in silos

Working in silos means that while the team is all working towards the same goal, they aren’t actually working together.

It’s a risk to project success because:

  • Solving problems will take longer, because we don’t defer to our resources for a solution or a different point of view
  • Team members won’t understand each other’s needs or the ways they can help to reduce common problems their colleagues face
  • It creates ineffective workdays, like attending meetings when we are not needed or having meetings that don’t attempt to achieve a valuable outcome.

Top Project Risk #2 – Stakeholder Management

Stakeholders are a critical part of any successful project delivery.

When our team fails to work collectively to effectively manage stakeholders, it becomes a risk to our project because:

  • Ineffective use of Stakeholder time means different team members are meeting with the same stakeholders on different topics related to the same project
  • The team provides conflicting information
  • There are no boundaries to manage work commitments with stakeholders and this is a fast track to scope creep

Top Project Risk #3 – Project Commitments

This risk can exist, even if your team isn’t working in silos.

It’s driven by poor communication, and it presents a risk to your project because:

  • Team members don’t understand the full need for the solution and what problem it is intended to solve. When this isn’t clear, they can’t understand how their work contributes to the project’s commitments and solutions. They will instead be thinking about their work in isolation of the whole solution
  • Your team might not be properly equipped (tools and knowledge) to deliver on commitments
  • There are no clear boundaries on what the team can and can’t say yes or no to (which creates another opportunity for scope creep)

What do Internal Project Team Risks Look Like?

So, what do these overlooked project risks look like in practice? And how do you overcome them if they happen on your project?

Let’s take a look at an example and a solution for each risk.

Risk Example #1 – Working in silos


Team members causing their own colleagues delays because they did not gather enough or the right information to continue progress.


Create more opportunities to collaborate. Introduce a peer review process to make sure team members are getting different perspectives.

Risk Example #2 – Stakeholder management


Stakeholders are turning up to less meetings and not being as responsive to requests for information.


Limit the number of stakeholder meetings by outlining the team’s weekly stakeholder needs and addressing multiple needs in the same meeting.

Risk Example #3 – Project Commitments


Constant change requests or scope creep are occurring due to the project team discovering and taking on new scope of work.


Set up a process to review scope change requests, which considers impacts the change will have on existing project commitments and identifies an accountable change approver.


There are plenty more examples I could give. And while solving problems on projects is part of the job, ideally we want to be drawing out these risks at the start of the project and putting measures in place to prevent them from happening in the first place.

How can you prevent Project Management Risks?

Preventing risks is always a better option than trying to solve for them in the middle of a project (when they’re likely to have a much more significant impact).

Here are some ways you can mitigate the risks of working in silos, stakeholder management and project commitments on your project.

Preventing Risk #1 – Working in silos

  • Create opportunities for the team to bounce off ideas and questions quickly and easily, and as close to real-time as possible. Use instant messaging platforms and apps, or sit team members close together to ensure they are able to achieve this.
  • Ensure the team know how they can help one another to overcome delays and rework.
  • Review what can be stopped, paused, or started to improve team efficiency and effectiveness.

Preventing Risk #2 – Stakeholder Management

  • Set boundaries upfront of how your project team will work with stakeholders
  • Provide stakeholders an insight of what you will need from them and when (as soon as you know) and how they prefer for you to work with them, so you can establish expectations right from the start.

Preventing Risk #3 – Project Commitments

  • Ensure the project team is clear upfront on what problem the project needs to solve and what part their work plays in achieving the overall solution.
  • Ensure each team member communicates what they need to complete their tasks on the project.
  • Set boundaries on what decisions each team member can and can’t make, and establish clear lines of authority for decisions impacting project commitments.

Communication is always the best risk prevention

Working in silos, stakeholder management and project commitments present often overlooked risks within project teams.

While these are major project management risks that our own project teams contribute to, the great news is that there are plenty of ways you can recover from each of these risks if they are already your reality.

But the ideal situation with risk management, is to put measures in place to prevent the risk from happening at all.

And the best way to do this is to make sure your team has clear, open lines of communication. Talking to each other, and to your project stakeholders is the easiest way to discover and minimise risk.

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