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Managing risk at portfolio, programme and project levels

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The East of England branch enjoyed a useful talk on managing risk at portfolio, programme and project levels, given by Peter Campbell, a highly experienced risk management consultant and recent Chairman of the APM Risk Specific Interest Group.

Peter highlighted that often risk management is not done very well within organisations, and that risks should be considered at an early stage (business case) of all projects. There should be a risk management plan at all levels of an organisation (the portfolio level equates to the strategic or board level) and there should be clear escalation and communication processes in place between the levels.

Project managers should think more widely about risks that might affect their projects, covering for example the tactical, strategic, operational and commercial aspects, to produce a holistic view of risks early in their projects.

A broad risk management process would be to initiate, identify, assess, plan and implement risk mitigation decisions.

Any risk reserves or contingency should be held at a programme or portfolio level, outside the projects.

Finally, he urged more use of external services, tools and techniques for risk assessment, such as the Price Tool, which is an estimating database used for defence projects, which can accurately predict the likely cost for a new project.

He also said that the APM Body of Knowledge and the Project Risk Analysis and Management(PRAM) guide are being updated to include risk management at the above 3 organisational levels.


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