Whose Risks are you Managing?

Infrastructure projects carry risks for all parties. Areas of risk include project timing, budget, design and engineering, Health and Safety, quality, business continuity and the environment.
The challenge for infrastructure operators is finding efficient ways to manage these often complex and interconnected risks, while also maintaining a lean operating structure.

Imposing control from above is one option for bringing risk management processes and objectives into line. But how many customers have the resources to do this effectively? And, even if they did, would it be the most appropriate solution?

Without a truly collaborative model that incorporates the entire supply chain, there’s a real danger of having a fragmented, inconsistent and unbalanced approach to risk management. This is not only inefficient, it’s also ineffective.

Active Risk Management

Part of the challenge is to make risk management a day-to-day consideration. It has to be actively managed and fully embedded into each project team. Active risk management needs to be framed and updated around a detailed understanding of the realities of project delivery. And everyone has to be fully bought into common processes and shared priorities.

This all raises significant challenges for the scope and running of risk reviews and workshops. How can these be made genuinely collaborative and respectful of everyone’s viewpoint and expertise? While contracts will inevitably apportion certain risks to different parties, this cannot be allowed to engender a defensive or adversarial approach. If individual parties focus entirely on their risks and are indifferent to the risks and needs of other partners, where does this leave us?

Achieving a balance where individual risks are truly ‘owned’ without clouding the view of the overall project objectives can be tricky.

In seeking to improve risk management within a lean business model, infrastructure operators need a supply chain that has a sufficiently deep pool of professional risk management skills. They also need to identify contractors with a proven collaborative mindset, who see sharing of knowledge and information as normal business. As seen with the STOP Think! programme run by Osborne, sharing our learning and our initiatives, aimed to change personal behaviours and thereby contribute to a safer and healthier infrastructure industry for all.

Collaborative risk management requires a supply chain that understands and accepts responsibility for business priorities and risks that go beyond the immediate project being delivered.

Find out more by visiting Highways learning pages on our website.

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