Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding risk-identification methods, part of Project Management Foundations: Risk.
You cannot fix what you don't understand. Moving forward on a project without performing appropriate risk identification is like heading out on a hike in the wilderness without a GPS or a map. It is easy to get yourself quite lost when you encounter the unexpected. Risks represent the unexpected in my hiking analogy. Different types of projects have different risks, and if you don't know your risks, what the probability of them occurring, and the impact they'll have, it is impossible to manage them effectively.
So, conducting an appropriate risk identification process is crucial. Here are three risk identification approaches that I recommend for use on your projects. The first approach is to hold a brainstorming session, which is also known as a risk workshop. As they say, several heads are better than one, and this holds true when it comes to identifying project risk. For these workshops, however, don't limit yourself to your project team. It's a good idea to involve your key stakeholders, sponsor, and maybe other project managers in this session.
To make these brainstorming sessions more effective, it's important that you participate in the workshop with a checklist of questions you want answers for. For example, is your costumer organization use to change? Are there external factors that will impact your project? Does a lack of a particular skill in the organization present a risk? What are the lessons learned from previous projects? In this session have everyone come up with their top five risks, and remember, that through this exercise, traditional brainstorming rules apply.
Capture all the potential risks. There are no bad ideas. You'll sort through them later. The trick during the brainstorming session is to think at a high level so you get a broad set of risks. If you need some ideas for the sorts of risk areas to cover, I've provided a checklist of questions that you can download if you're a Lynda.com member. The next risk identification method I recommend is to look to industry specific risk categories you'll need to cover.
For example, in the construction industry there are safety risks. In IT there are information requirement risks, and risks involving the creation of solutions that are too complex. To help, most industries have associations, online resources, and risk tools that you can leverage. Use them to identify risks. Examine your project against others in your industry. You might also find resources through other project managers involved in your industry. The Project Management Institute also has project management standards for projects in government, software, and construction that are useful.
The last technique to consider for risk identification is to look at your work breakdown structure, or WBS, and identify risks by tasks or group of tasks. As you will use the tasks in the WBS to deliver your projects, using the identified tasks in the WBS can trigger risk ideas that you would have otherwise missed. This is a good, systematic last step to help ensure you have thoroughly considered potential risks that may plague your project. You can't address risks you haven't identified.
Launching your risk management approach with thorough and well considered risk identification practices will help ensure you manage your project in a controlled, proactive manner.
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- Incorporating risk management into your project
- Identifying risk
- Categorizing risks
- Performing qualitative and quantitative risk analysis
- Building a risk-response plan
- Deciding when to execute a risk-response plan<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.