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WILDQARDS - this is our methodological toolbox.

The first thing we have done is to address the topic of project risks and have created the set No. 5 with 64 cards. Here you will find an overview of all cards and a short description of each card.

The WILDQARD Set No. 5 Project Risks is made for the manager of design and development projects and contains 64 typical risks as they can occur in projects - divided into the categories Timing, Quality, Margin, Legal and Orga. You will recognize many situations from your own practice. We use these WILDQARDS before and during a project, lay out the cards in a positioning cross and determine the relevant risks we want to keep an eye on. A crisp team activity that takes no more than 20 minutes, but brings heaps of important insights. Try it out for yourself.

Project Risk Timing


Project under high time pressure. The deadline is indanger.

Start too early

Often costs our time. Keep meaningful small steps ready for the start. Set up the process clearly so both client and team have orientation.

Miss the deadline

This should not happen twice! Set and communicate binding milestones and deadlines in teamwork. Focus all efforts on one deadline. Clearly focus on the deadline (rally the team).

No masterplan

Demand clarity, communicate cleanly. Shorten meeting times or eliminate meetings to avoid downtime.

Poor decision-making

Decide or hand over the project. Make decisions immediately, show determination, and say NO here & now.

Sick leave, vacation

Illness-related absences or holidays put time planning at risk. Consider holidays early and reserve replacement resources (freelancers).

Project delay

Announce lead time, do not immediately jump to action, communicate outlook and consequences, and communicate expectations.

Project Risk Quality


The project confronts us with great challenges. It becomes difficult to achieve the required quality.

Insufficient Creativity

Get up, leave the computer, go out, look for stimulating surroundings, Coaching, brainstorming, plan sources of inspiration.

Uninspired team mood

Immediate clarifying conversation. Don't let it slide - BREAK - Be the devil's advocate, do things differently, challenge, take a trip.

Lack of client overview

Communicate regularly with the client and align expectations (Rule of thumb: at least every 14 days!) Understand and accept the client's signs. Proactively address the client.

Poor usability

Always consider the negative consequences for the user or service technician (assembly). Develop and apply a usability checklist.

Wrong product

Recognize one's limits, involve multidisciplinary work, include external/internal experts, call network contacts, go on a discovery tour, see realistically and not be dazzled.

Complexity - risk of error

Check team composition, how can complexity be simplified? Promote concentration. Eliminate distractions.


Sales promises are made that cannot be kept. Often, the appointments are not sufficiently communicated to the designers. The sales department must ensure that the promises are kept.

Quality not sufficient

Seek external opinions, face criticism, hold a crisis meeting for goal clarification, use a review matrix. Rely on experience.

Design not feasible

A cardinal error of designers - thinking only on paper, not in implementation. Conduct a reality check with colleagues, introduce a devil's advocate to challenge the design.

Suppressed risks

Solve problems as early as possible when still flexible. If a difficult issue is identified, do not postpone it. Discuss with other disciplines and find a solution.

Lack of documentation

Maintain discipline in documentation and communication. Immediately document correctly - preferably enter digitally in parallel. Do not delay more than 1 day, otherwise, the momentum is lost and you forget half of it.

Data loss

Important data can be lost due to incorrect data naming or insufficient data backup. Data from past projects cannot be reconstructed. Pay attention to uniform naming and secure storage locations.

Details overlooked

Not paying enough attention to details. Maintain discipline in documentation and communication. Immediately document correctly, preferably entering digitally in parallel. Do not delay documentation for more than 1 day to avoid losing momentum and forgetting details.

Outdated result

Despite approval, the design does not further the client's goals. Learn more about the client's motivation and plans. Develop a 10-point list with the most important requirements.

Design is a flop

The design does not resonate in the market, and it's too late to make changes. Use market research or usability tests early on to understand market expectations. Inform clients that they cannot solely rely on the "genius of the designers."

Too expensive product

Clarify manufacturing costs and sales price early. Then pursue design-to-cost strategies. Possibly involve experts. Make preliminary inquiries with manufacturers.

Project Risk Margin


The project is under heavy financial pressure. There is a risk of loss.

Bit by bit specifications

Recognize early and immediately announce additional effort, then clarify. Do not accept salami tactics if it complicates our work.

Scope creep

Client requests sneak in during the process, always just "one small thing" leading to unnoticed scope inflation. Announce additional effort as soon as extra requests are made and inquire about additional billing.

Change requests

Client changes often. Address change requests by managing specifications. Proactively communicate the course of the project with the customer for transparency, adopting the customer perspective.

Take over unspecific tasks

Only accept tasks if the time and cost frame is clarified and the result is specified. Both internally and externally. Actively inquire - and do not say yes beforehand.

Too tight budget

Negotiate or complete with less effort. Make a sprint. Achieve a complete result in the shortest time possible - a breakthrough! Inform management.

Think too small

Clear communication to PM & team. Plan tasks, abbreviate, and omit without losing quality. Avoid perfectionism, be bold.

Project overdrawn

Fight the downward spiral - BREAK - get back on track. Consider radical measures. How can the project be completed with half the budget? Break out of automatic responses. Insert a 1-day sprint.

External events

The customer is always right, but there are limits (Insult, Threat, False Facts...) -> Consult with management and negotiate an exit agreement | react early!

The wheel reinvented

Use templates | adopt from previous projects, talk to colleagues. Take over ideas, solutions, templates from old projects or colleagues. Be smart.


Downgrading, refer to the offer for limitations. Keep a buffer for the unforeseen. Work towards this early on.

Favorite idea

Kill your darlings! Design must be led; radically select, discard drafts, exchange designs. Design is a team effort.

Too expensive, price pressure

Look for savings opportunities with the customer, no reduction without return. Beware of traps, strive for independence.

Errors / correction loops

Take concrete measures for quality management & documentation. Implement a four-eyes principle, hold regular meetings for documentation.

Different mindset

Take concrete measures for quality management & documentation. Implement a four-eyes principle, hold regular meetings for documentation.


Detect signs of insolvency as early as possible. Stagger invoice and payment dates accordingly. Withhold payment in case of doubt. No delivery without a legally binding promise of payment.

Project Risk Legal


The project involves legal risks.

Contractual ambiguities

Find out the reason. Do not let yourself be put under pressure. If necessary, take a break for clarification.

Delimitation of liability

Aim for a clear delimitation of responsibility from the beginning. Formulate exclusions in the offer. Clearly indicate this during the project.

Triangular relationship

Everyone agrees, but no one acts! Communicate precisely, make clear arrangements, demarcate responsibilities clearly, and represent own interests.

No safeguard

Never protest! A real complaint is always a gift, otherwise, one might not realize mistakes were made. Act uprightly and swiftly, solve the problem (and a bit more), and the client will never forget.

Secret disclosed (NDA)

NDA documentation must be watertight. Be cautious about who is given what information. Systematically transfer NDAs. Plan tasks, perhaps catch up on NDAs.

Patent infringement

Treat IP research as the customer's responsibility. Inquire about competitors with an active legal department. Avoid designs that could potentially infringe on patents.

Project Risk Orga

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Markus Wild

+49 (0)209 702 642 00

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