Project Planning

What is the difference between two photos below?

fog and planning 2fog and planning

Yes, you are right – without the mist we can see the building more clearly. Something similar is happening with our projects: early in the initiation stage, there is a lot of uncertainty. It is really hard to estimate time and cost requirements, especially when the scope of work is not clearly defined.

However, it is still important to come up with an estimate, even if it is very high-level. Ideally, we have to define a way to manage the scope, schedule, requirements, financials, quality, resources, change, risks, stakeholders, communications, etc. Later in the project we can progressively elaborate on the plan to make it more accurate.

As far as an initial estimate for a timelines goes, even creating a list of activities and understanding dependencies can dramatically reduce the fog.

Plan

Try engaging your team members: ask them how long they think certain work packages might take to complete. Organise a workshop to discuss and capture the dependencies and risks. Make sure you have buy-in from your team and everyone is aware of the critical path

Yes, things can and will change, but having a plan helps you to become more aware of the potential impact of this change on budget, scope or quality. Ultimately, a good plan can help project managers put things into perspective and monitor and control projects more effectively.


Managing Risk on Security-related Projects

All companies have assets. They help them generate profit and hence require protection. Information security professionals help companies to assess and manage risk to these assets and make sure that cost-effective and appropriate response strategies are chosen to address these risks.

Enterprises in turn may decide to implement mitigation strategies in the form of technical, procedural, physical or legal controls. These implementations would have a defined start and end date and would require resources and hence a project rather than an operational activity.

However, such implementations have their own project risks. According to the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledgerisk is an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives.

The project risk management process is similar to the information security risk management and consists of four stages:

1. Identification – Log risk, agree and assign an owner

2. Analysis – An owner assesses risk and sets probability and impact

3. Monitoring and Control – An ongoing process of tracking identified risks, monitoring residual risks, identifying new risks, executing risk response plans and evaluating their effectiveness throughout programme.

4. Response planning  – What response will be taken to manage the risk

It is a good practice to involve your team and all relevant stakeholders during the project planning stage to identify the risks and populate the risk log

risk

  • ID – assign a number (e.g. 1, 2, 3)
  • Risk– a specific definition of the risk event.
  • Consequence –what effect each entry has on the business/change programme/projects
  • Trigger – an event which signals the risk occurrence
  • Date Raised – when the risk was initially raised
  • Date Updated – when the risk was updated
  • Owner – a person responsible for monitoring risk event, notifying team, and executing risk response
  • Due Date – when will the actions be completed
  • Probability (on a scale 1-5) – likelihood of the risk occurring
  • Impact (on a scale 1-5) – impact if the risk does occur
  • Risk Score – probability x Impact
  • Response Strategy – a specific agreed actions which will take place to manage the risk (Avoid, Transfer, Mitigate, Accept))
  • Current Status – indicate risk status (Red, Amber, Green, Closed)

During the execution of the project, the risk log should be continuously revised and kept up to date to ensure that project issues, risks and mitigating actions are fully and formally assessed and managed throughout the project lifecycle.

Download a sample risk log


Managing Stakeholders and Communication on Security-related Projects

Enterprises across the world are becoming more and more aware of security-related issues and their impact on the business, making them increasingly willing to address them. Although they are open to listening to the security professionals’ advice, the language the business speaks is different.

It is important for security specialists to understand the business requirements and communicate the value of security accordingly. Managing stakeholders and communication is therefore becoming one of the essential skills of the modern security professional.

One should understand that the earlier people are involved in a security project, the easier it is to get their buy-in. It is useful to spend some time on planning the communication prior to a project kick-off.

As a first step to such planning, a stakeholder register could be created capturing the contact information, expectations about the project, level of influence, and other characteristics, as in the table below.

stakeholder

As soon as the stakeholders are identified, a communication management plan should be created. One can engage the stakeholders to identify the best way of communication, its frequency, responsibility and a reason for sending.

communication

While managing a project, a security professional spends almost all his / her time communicating in various ways. Proper stakeholder engagement and communication planning can make the security-related projects run much smoother. At the end of the day, security professionals are there to help people to make the business more secure. This task can be achieved more easily when people are cooperating with the security professionals rather than trying to sabotage the project.