Get Things Done this Month

risk management guide

Happy September!

I’m a big fan of September for several reasons: the weather is cooling down, vacation-time is over, fall race season is starting (well, it is normally) and there’s a lot of pie-ready fruit available (I love pie). 

However, one reason I really like this month is that September is a great month for getting things done.  

And if you have any plans to build or update your enterprise risk management system by the end of the year, this might your last chance to get started.

If you don’t start your project now, you have very little chance of succeeding before the end of the year.

That might seem fairly stark but I can say that with confidence because over the last 15+ years and dozens, if not hundreds of consulting engagements, I have noticed that the chances of successful, on time delivery diminishes as the end of the year approaches.

So you need to start now.  

Why September?

As I said, September is a great time because you have the energy to plow through a lot of work.

The real reason to do this now is because September and October are the last real work months of the year.  

It might seem odd to write off November and December but think about it.  

December is a bust because:

  • Everyone is scrambling to get things closed out by December 31.
  • Budgets normally have to submitted by then.
  • End of year reports, reviews and returns are due.

November is also tricky because:

  • If you are in the southern hemisphere, you are starting to ease into summer.
  • If you are in the Northern hemisphere you are grumpy because it is dark and cold.
  • If you are in America, there are always some key decision-makers on vacation.

I thought this last point was a joke when I moved to the US and a friend advised me to get any big decisions out of the way before Halloween.  Lo and behold, as soon as my sugar rush had died down in early November, it felt like France in August: empty desks everywhere.  (Sorry mes amis but you know it’s true.)  Lesson learned!

An Eight Week Sprint

Eight weeks is a good project length.  It’s long enough to make real progress but short enough to keep people’s attention.  It’s certainly more than enough time to put the basics of an enterprise risk management (ERM) system together.  Embedding the system is  what really takes the time but that happens after the initial eight weeks.  

Remember, great is the enemy of good. 

Get a functional, fit for purpose plan in place and then see how it performs rather than trying to get everything right first time.  Eight weeks is more than enough time for that. Any longer and you will just keep fiddling to try to make it perfect and your stakeholders will move onto something else.  However, if you can get a workable process in place, you can observe, review and update as you go.

Two months is a perfect length for a build / review project: long enough to achieve the result but short enough to maintain momentum, enthusiasm and energy. 

I firmly believe that September and October are the best times to tackle any of these big projects. February / March is another option but, to my mind, September is the best time to start anything substantial.  

Get started now and then you can kick back and enjoy the last few months of the year happy – dare I say a little smug? – that you are in good shape while you watch other departments scrambling to secure that last vital stakeholder approval meeting in mid-December.


If you’re looking for more resources to help you build your risk management system, check out the ERM resource page here.

Or get the handbook

build a risk management system with this handbook

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