While the reasons for a marketing project to fail vary widely, the cause is often lack of risk management; learn to work around this problem

Risk management is a process that aims to reduce the occurrence of negative events during a project. It encompasses a series of steps such as: planning, risk identification, quantitative and qualitative analysis, risk response planning and control. To do so, it is necessary to be aware of all the threats and opportunities involved.

Anyone who works in marketing agencies knows that there are projects that are born doomed to total failure. The reasons are as diverse as possible: unattainable deadlines, lack of resources, defined requirements without the necessary clarity, lack of project scope planning, and so on.

Managers often take on a spectator position and watch from a stateroom the sinking of a boat that they themselves helped to sink. Even well-planned marketing projects hardly advance as planned, as unforeseen events can always occur that can change the desired trajectory. Unless, of course, they are effectively contained and mitigated while there is still time.

Although the reasons for the failure of a marketing project vary widely, the cause can often be traced back to a lack of planning or a lack of risk management . This post will mainly talk about the solution to the second problem.

You might be wondering the difference between risk and problem. In the context of project management, it can be said that risk is something negative that can happen, while the problem is something negative that has already occurred.

Risks can be:

  • Known: when they have already been identified, analyzed and considered in project planning;
  • Unknowns: in this situation, when the event occurs, we have a problem that must be dealt with quickly.

Every decision making on your marketing project, team activity or new project step has an implicit risk, whether you like it or not. That is, there is the possibility that a risk will materialize into a problem and generate a negative effect for each activity, delivery or stage of your project. These effects can be disastrous and, therefore, risk management has gained increasing relevance in the agile management of marketing projects .

What is project risk management?

According to the PMBOK® Guide, managing a project’s risks and problems comprises a series of steps. Planning, identification of risks, carrying out quantitative analysis (probability of problems occurring), carrying out qualitative analysis (impact generated by problems), risk response planning and risk control. Its objective is to minimize the occurrence of negative events during the project.

In the project context, risk management requires good planning and review. We cannot be too optimistic or too pessimistic. It is necessary to fully observe the scenario in which your marketing project is being implemented, considering all the threats and opportunities involved.

Risks in marketing projects are often part of the lack of balance between the following conflicting constraints:

  • Scope;
  • Schedule;
  • Budget;
  • Resources;
  • Quality.

To address the risks and issues in our marketing projects, we can use a simple technique, introduced by Stephen Barker and Rob Cole in the book Project Management. What the Best Managers Know, Do and Say , comprising 3 steps: Identification Planning and Monitoring . Let’s go to them!

1. Identification of risks and problems

One of the first steps to efficient risk management, following good project management practices, starts with a careful identification of the threats involved in your marketing project. The job team must also verify the probability of occurrence of this negative factor and its impact on the project.

Risk identification is an iterative process that should start with your project and persist through delivery. This is because we must take into account that some risks are evidenced during project execution. We can summarize this situation in the following flow:

The customer suggests a change -> the emergence of new risk possibilities -> the need to assess which strategies will be used to deal with these threats.

When meeting with your team to review key project threats, always keep three essential questions in mind:

  1. What can threaten the completion of the project?
  2. What can threaten the available budget for the project?
  3. What can threaten meeting the agreed deadlines for the project?

You should lead the management with the participation of your agency’s team, and everyone should feel free to point out any aspect they consider a risk or problem.

To facilitate identification and analysis tasks, the risks identified in your marketing project can be classified and assessed based on their categories, for example:

  • Technical risks: related to project requirements, technologies used, quality, performance or reliability of actions;
  • Organizational risks: related to project dependencies, resources involved, financing or prioritization of project activities;
  • External risks: related to suppliers or outsourcing, regulations, changes in the market, customer or climate.
  • Project management risks: related to project estimation, control, planning or communication.

If you’ve already identified the main threats to your project, it’s time to register them. For this, you can create a chart to relate each risk with the information used, thus mapping the health of your marketing project.

Keep in mind that documented risks and issues will not be overlooked . Therefore, you and your team must register those that are raised during the execution of the tasks. That way, it will be easier to explain them and keep your team aware of the identified difficulties.

2. Action planning

After identifying the risks and problems that threaten your marketing project, it is necessary to plan an action to mitigate them through preventive measures. You must find ways to prevent them from becoming reality, looking for ways to do so. And the problems? In that case, it’s too late to prevent something. The solution is to strive to reduce its consequences through contingency measures.

As not all risks and issues are of equal importance, you need to find a way to identify which ones deserve your attention the most. There are a number of statistical techniques for assessing risk probabilities and estimating the consequences of problems

So, a risk with a low probability of happening, but which would have reasonable consequences, for example, would be rated 6 (2 x 3). At the same time, an almost certain risk combined with serious consequences would amount to 20 (5 x 4).

To expand your analysis, you can measure risk concentration by category, assigning a score to each category from the individual score. The next step is to analyze the result, as the items with the highest scores deserve your immediate attention.

You must keep in mind that a poorly assessed risk is just as dangerous as an unidentified risk. If you underestimate the impact of the delivery date of your marketing project and then realize that the deadline agreed with the customer is not feasible, how will you justify this to the customer?

3. Monitoring and control

Project risk management is not an activity that should only be undertaken at the beginning of your marketing project. It’s something that should be part of your agency’s day-to-day tasks . A great strategy is for you to incorporate the review of the risks raised in the projects as part of the follow-up meetings . However, as the work progresses, you can’t forget to re-evaluate everything that has already been mapped out by your team.

To facilitate this analysis, you can use management tools. But in order for you to get quick and assertive feedback regarding the “general health” of your project, these records must be constantly updated.

These tools can allow you to record, share and track the progress of an activity in your project, include attachments, links, images, set date and time for the tasks listed and checklists on activity cards, among other benefits.

A valuable tip is to observe the evolution of your risks and problems over time. You will find that in a healthy marketing project, they diminish or lose their intensity as the project steps forward.

If you notice that the risks are gone, you can celebrate! This is an indication that your agency is on the right path.