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Getting It Done: Project Management in Action by Project Management Institute

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Zombie Risks

How to prevent retired risks from coming back to life.

Rex M. Holmlin, PE, PMP

I teach project management to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as students in continuing corporate education programs. During one class on project risk management, we discussed retiring risks once the activities associated with them were complete. That's when a student asked, “What about zombie risks?”

He had worked on a project in which the team diligently identified risks and included them in the risk register. As the likelihood of each risk became low enough, the team retired it, and the contingency funds set aside for that risk were freed up for other purposes.

Unfortunately, after being retired, one risk “came back to life”—much like ...

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