Business and projects are fraught with risks.

Will my project sponsor be reasonable about this issue? Is the vendor going to uphold their service response time promise? Can the developers finish their testing on-time?

While it’s tempting to bury our heads in the sand and hope everything goes smoothly, that’s not going to help when something inevitably goes awry. The wiser choice is to consider what could go wrong and take steps to prevent as much of that risk as possible.

Since the first step is identifying potential risks to your project, here are several items to consider:

1. Budget

Is this project fully funded? Have you built in a contingency fund to cover unforeseen expenses?

2. Personnel

Do you have enough people to fill each role on the project team? If you suspect you’re somewhat understaffed, look into the possibility of bringing on contractors as needed.

Do you know if there’s any existing conflict among team members? If so, how will you manage that during the project?

As you develop the project plan, do you know which team members are overly optimistic when it comes to giving you estimates on how long it will take to complete a task?

If you’re bringing on additional personnel to work on the project, what is your plan for quickly on-boarding them (getting them access to the systems and information they’ll need, providing them with office space, etc.)?

3. Timeline

Were you able to schedule the project based on how long it should take to complete all the work or was the deadline imposed upon the team? If the deadline isn’t movable, do you have the authorization to add resources to the team to speed up the process? Do you know what tasks the team can work on concurrently to compress the overall timeline?

4. Vendors

If this is a software implementation or upgrade, consider your company’s relationship with the software vendor. Are you a VIP client or a small fish in a large pond? Do you have priority when it comes to resolving issues?

If you’re working with a consulting firm or other vendor, how well do their personnel know the culture of your company and how it operates? Are they willing to adapt their methodology to fit into the culture or will they insist that the team change everything about how it normally operates?

5. Management

How much support do you have from management for this project? Do some senior leaders think this is great while others feel it’s a waste of time?

6. Stakeholders

Who are your key stakeholders for this project? What level of support, interest, and assistance do you expect from each person? What does each stakeholder expect from this project?

Do any stakeholders have priorities that conflict with the objectives of this project? If so, how do you plan on managing that situation?

7. Supplies

If you’re relying on special equipment, technology or supplies to make this project successful, what is your plan for ensuring you receive those items on time?

As you think through these potential issues, start documenting how you can mitigate each. What actions can you take now to prevent or reduce the likelihood of each risk occurring? What steps will you take if one of these risks happens?

Document those plans now before the project is underway. Hopefully you never need to reference your risk management plan. However, if something does go wrong, you’ll save time, money and stress by already having a plan to deal with the situation.