Mitigation plan, Fallback Plan, Contingency Plan and Workaround – PMP/CAPM

Mitigation plan, Fallback Plan, Contingency Plan and Workaround

Mitigation plan

In risk mitigation, action is taken to reduce the probability of occurrence and/or impact of a threat. PMBOK 6

is used for the risk with high probability and impact and therefore place in action to minimize the impact. Risk mitigation revolves around reducing the impact of potential risk. Mitigating risk doesn’t reduce the risk at all. In fact, it accepts that the business will not be able to stop some type of loss. Therefore, the risk mitigation plan seeks to limit the financial impact on the company if something goes wrong.

Example

A jewellery store might mitigate the risk of theft, by having a security system or even a security guard at the entrance. This won’t stop all theft occurrences, but it might dissuade criminals from targeting this store over another store that has no security measures.

Contingency Plan

Aka Contingent response strategy is activated when the risk has occurred. This is part of the Risk management plan. These are usually identified (Known and unknown) for high probability and impact risk which are accepted. It is done through contingency reserve. The objective is to reduce the impact to the threshold limits using the contingency reserves. The contingency reserves and contingency plan are part of the Risk register.

Fallback Plan

is made for risk for which we as a project management team believe that the Mitigation or contingency plan may fail or may not able to reduce the impact to an acceptable.  In short, fallback plans get into action when a risk that has occurred and the main response i.e contingency plan proves to be ineffectual or failed. Its a backup plan for a backup plan.

Contingency plans or fallback plans are included with identified triggering events that set the plans in effect. Contingency and fallback plans are developed to manage identified risks.  The contingency plan and fallback plan support each other and are not vastly different from each other.

The fallback plan is like plan C of Plan B i.e contingency plan.

Example:

Suppose you are heading towards the gym on a Sunday morning. Though your original plan is to attend a yoga class. Since you know that Sunday mornings are very busy, so you are doubtful whether your class might be fully booked by the time you reach. Subsequently, you mitigate the risk of skipping a workout by taking along your swimming costume and other gear in case the yoga class will certainly be full.

Consider another situation when there is rainfall longer than you expected consequently damaging the consumables. If you are thinking to execute your fallback plan, your plan says that if the rainfall continues for long, you will reorganize consumables from an already identified supplier to start the work again.

A Contingency or fallback plan is a strategic risk response that the project team will execute in case of beforehand identified risks. Implementing these plans will assist to minimize the influence of risk in the project and ensure the project achieves its ultimate objectives. Both are created as part of the project risk management plan and should be planned and developed ahead of the event, If plans involve any added finances, it is typically supported from the contingency reserve of the project and not by the management reserves.

Workaround

Workaround refers to the unplanned response the Project Manager needs to manage with emerging risks that are passively accepted. However, there is no pre-determined risk response. While it is most effective to be prepared for the risk occurrence and have already taken an action plan and budget to carry it out, it’s not always possible to predict every project risk. This is primarily due to the limited duration available for the risk determination, a limited experience of the project team, or an extremely doubtful event occurring.

Under these circumstances, a workaround is a way out to an unexpected issue. Though remember not to confuse it with a contingency or standby plan which is also perceived in advance. Unlikely, a workaround is not considered as a solid solution to the immediate problem. A project team often devise many workarounds during the course of a project. Since workaround is exclusively designed to bypass instead of correcting a problem, therefore it cannot survive in the long-term.

It is primarily regarded as a temporary fix and therefore one should forecast solutions if the problem arises for a longer period. Also, it’s crucial to make a few notes as you are working on the workaround so the project management team put in a much stable fix immediately. While a workaround is very efficient, the moment the issue gets over the parameters, it eventually becomes useless.

Example:

Suppose you are sending a file attached to an email, it may get distorted by the operating system and the receiver gets a failed file at the end. Now the ways to handle this problem is either to use a different email program for that memo with the attachment or take a screenshot of the document. These alternative solutions are workarounds. However, they are temporary as the sender cannot use the other email program or photograph every time there is an attachment.

Risks will be handled by the combination of acceptance, contingency plans, and mitigation.

Further Readings

  1. Project Risk Management 3 Part Series on Project Management Knowledge Areas
  2. Other Risk Definitions.
  3. Examples of a Mitigation Plan 

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