Issues represent problems or setbacks within your project, while risks are events that could happen and disrupt the planning of your project. Merlin Project contains issue management and professional-grade risk management.
Issues are events that threaten to disrupt the project. When you insert an Issue, you are actually reporting an event that requires a fix. In the Inspector you can therefore enter your name in the “Reported by” field. However, dealing with issues can be someone else’s responsibility, which is why you can assign the problem in the “Assigned to” field. The third field is “Supported by”, which is an optional third person who will also work on fixing the problem.
“Fix until” relates to the ultimate deadline for the issue to be fixed. If you check the “As soon as possible” checkbox, you want the issue to be fixed without delay and at the very least before the deadline. Issues can be categorised using the preset categories, but in Settings > Value Lists, you can add your own categories as well. The Issue type defines the problem. It could be a bug, a problem but also a feature request that is about to disrupt the original project plan.
With the Status field, you can create a follow-up system with statuses being adjusted by anyone who is dealing with the issue at hand.
Risk events have a probability and an impact. Take an airplane crash: its probability is extremely low but when the event does occur, its impact can be huge. Another example of the reverse: the probability that it rains in London is quite high, but if you planned a garden party the maximum impact will be wet guests only.
Note that guests getting wet doesn’t necessarily mean the party will turn out to be a failure. It could still be a lot of fun. That’s why impact and probability have a one-on-one relationship with the risk event they are associated with.
Project risk management should be commensurate with the size and complexity of a project. Simple projects can do with simple qualitative analysis. More complex projects require the use of robust quantitative analysis techniques. Merlin Project helps you manage both.
In the Risks Inspector you will find five field groups to manage risks:
- Risk assessment, containing the risk group (a Value List you can expand in the Settings > Value Lists Inspector), risk class, probability and description. This group also includes the person who reported the risk, the person in charge and when the risk was reported.
- Impact analysis, including scope (how will it affect the project), costs and deadline shifts.
- Status, which shows a score for the entered probability, scope, costs and deadline fields.
- Actions lets you enter the actions you must take to neutralise the risk from happening.
- Risk Closing, finally, allows you to enter whether the risk could be averted, the delay before actual closing occurred and the costs involved. In addition, you can comment on what you have learned from the handling of this risk.
In the Risks Inspector you only need to concentrate on estimating the probability of the risk happening and its risk class. The latter is crucial because it allows you to decide on a strategy to manage the risk.
- Requires Reduction means you’ll have to find a way to reduce the impact. For example, airplanes should be so secure the risk is virtually non-existent
- Requires Emergency Plan implies you’ll reduce the impact by planning for the worst case scenario. Example: if you want to make sure guests don’t get wet, hire a marquise.
- Accepted means you’re willing to accept the risk event’s consequences if it should happen.
In Part IV you’ll learn about Merlin Project’s Risk management point scoring system.