Mitigating “External” Risks is usually Scoop Creep

by Cheryl Wilson PMP, PMI-RMP, CCEP

Tasks outside of a projects planned objectives, is commonly known as scope creep. Scope creep can originate from several sources and is a leading risk potential. As a review, the project primary constraints are Scope, Time, and Cost, Quality and Risk. Constraints behave in concert based on stressor mechanics. Equilibrium = the projects primary constraints in balance. If one constraint is altered the other primary constraints must be realigned to re-balance. If equilibrium cannot be achieved, projects cannot produce the “fit for use” deliverables. Risk potentials should be categorized into internal and external risks as soon as they are identified.

Internal Risks
Internal risk potentials are risks that fall within the scope of the project. The project manager and the project team have some control over the mitigation plan.

External Risks
Risk potentials that cannot be mitigated by the project manager or the project team are considered external risks. Organizational problems that the Project manager has no control over fall into this category as well as funding for the project. If the project manager or the project team cannot mitigate the risk within their scope, additional resources or funding will need to be applied.

Scope Creep
Because as effective mitigation of external risks normally involve tasks that are outside of the projects deliverables, external risks should be escalated to the program level or the portfolio level for effective management. By trying to mitigate the risk, the result is usually scope creep.

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