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Saturday, May 04, 2002

 

Risk management is a much discussed topic here, and one of the better books on this topic that I've recently read is Effective Risk Management: Some Keys to Success. This book is for risk management professionals, or those who work with risk management (project managers, IT security and business continuity professionals and engineers) who want or need to master advanced risk management techniques based on real world issues and factors. Although the book is focused on risk management from a DoD contracting perspective, the material is applicable to commercial organizations as well. The author provides an appendix that compare DoD contracting and commercial environments to ensure that this book has a wide appeal (A Comparison of Risk Management for Commercial and Defense Programs). Obviously if you work in the DoD contracting industry this book is going to be more applicable.

The book begins with an introduction that discusses risk management, why it's needed and what it is. I felt that this material was too basic for an advanced book, but the subsequent chapters quickly got to the heart of the subject by providing the details for an implementation life cycle of an effective risk management process that consists of:

  1. Implementation
  2. Planning
  3. Identification
  4. Analysis
  5. Managing risks
  6. Monitoring
What makes this book valuable for real world practitioners are the pragmatic advice for developing a risk management process that is based on the lessons learned by the author and best practices. In fact, there are over 250 such lessons learned. These alone make the book worthwhile for even the most experienced practitioner because there are sure to be many that you may not have considered. In addition to the best practices, the author provides pitfalls common to risk management and how to avoid them.

Another aspect of this book that adds value is the use of readily available tools, such as Microsoft Excel, and popular simulation software (CrystalBall) to reinforce the techniques that are described in the book. Overall this is one of the best books on risk management that I own because it goes into deep detail and coves advanced topics. It also is practical instead of theoretical, which sets it apart from most risk management books. See my 3 May entry in Notes from the Field for descriptions of tools that you will find useful with the probability computations that are required to effectively compute risks.