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Project definition is a tricky part of the project. If your environment is like most, you need to nail down the scope, the responsibilities and the approach as quickly as possible because the team has already started working. Given the limited time it may sound counterproductive but ideally you should create the preliminary list of risks and the project schedule at the same time.
As the image above illustrates, the Project Plan* (Scope, Management Plans, etc.), Schedule and Risks feed off each other as they are created. As the Scope Statement is defined and activities are defined they are added to the schedule. When an item is determined to be someone else’s responsibility there is a risk that it won’t be done.
While developing the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and Project Schedule you will uncover activities and perhaps deliverables that need to be added to the scope. Thinking through the implications of the tasks involved may trigger a thought for the Quality Plan or identify a new role to add to the Human Resource Management Plan. Risks are a natural result of drilling into the details.
Identifying Risks may expose the need for additional communication channels, tasks in the schedule or clarifications on the scope.
Working these three tools together will set your project on the right track from the beginning.
* Per PMI definition the Project Plan includes the Scope Statement, Risk Management Plan, Quality Plan, etc. The Project Plan could also be replaced with the Statement of Work (SOW).