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Managing projects in an uncertain world : engaging stakeholders, and building a systemic view of risk

Ackermann, Fran and Howick, Susan and Houghton, Tom and Quigley, John and Walls, Lesley (2012) Managing projects in an uncertain world : engaging stakeholders, and building a systemic view of risk. In: OR54 Annual Conference 2012, 2012-09-04 - 2012-09-06, Edinburgh First, The University of Edinburgh. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

As evidenced through both a historical record of project over-runs and a large number of projects currently under media spotlight for cost over-runs e.g. Edinburgh Tram system, managing projects can be a risky business. Managers are faced with effectively engaging and working with often a multitude of parties (suppliers, government, consultants, general public and own staff), anticipating and dealing with a wealth of often interlocking uncertainties (ranging from technological innovation to force majeure), and often undertaking these activities within a compressed timeframe (which exacerbates the situation) This paper describes a risk management process that has been developed to assist managers facing such situations. The process explicitly engages a range of stakeholders using a group decision support system (allowing for equality of view) and causal mapping process (which facilitates the surfacing of risks along with their ramifications), and thus provides not only a comprehensive appreciation of the totality of the risks identified but also a greater understanding of their subtleties, consequences etc. The paper will discuss a real case where the process was used to gain an understanding of the risks associated with developing a new energy system. The paper will describe the process and its implications, before reflecting on the insights, limitations and future research.