Risk-Taker-on-Tightrope-285x280“Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.” says Wethern’s Law of Suspended Judgement.

How many times have you made an assumption and realised too late that you should have stopped to check it was correct instead of carrying on to realise your mistake? We’ve all been there, done that. Assumptions are a necessary part of our lives – in fact we have to make them daily in order to live our lives effectively – however in any situation making too many assumptions can cause problems and challenges down the track. 

In certain situations it is crucial that all assumptions are clarified upfront or otherwise we risk a plethora of unwanted, and sometimes unexpected issues. I have been working on a risk allocation matrix of an infrastructure project and one of the key tools we have used is the Risk Allocation Table. We have designed this table to be agreed, aligned and implemented upfront before the project has even commenced. The table sets out how each risk associated with the project is allocated to each party, who is responsible for the risk and provides increased certainty and clarifies expectations around the scope of work upfront, thereby minimising contract variations which would otherwise commonly arise later down the track in major infrastructure projects. As well as ensuring that the contractor and other service providers do not build unnecessary contingency into the price, the Risk Allocation Table encourages greater role clarity, accountability and enhanced relationships between stakeholders involved in the project.

The beauty of the Risk Allocation Table is that it mitigates the risk of making too many assumptions by clarifying them all upfront but yet does not compromise the delivery of outcomes – in fact it promotes efficiency and effectiveness by making sure the project runs as smoothly as possible right from the start.  It also ensures that we are clear on how variations, challenges and risks are to be managed to ensure a successful project outcome.

For a simple example of the Risk Allocation Table, please see below:

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