Successful project managers have a common trait – they identify and manage risks. Let's look at seven tools and techniques to identify project risks.
Often project managers start with a splash. They get the team together, identify lots of risks, and enter them into an Excel spreadsheet. However, the risks are never discussed again.
What happens when project managers and their team fail to identify risks in an iterative fashion? Teams spend their time and energy on things that do not matter. Risks are not identified and turn into more costly issues. Furthermore, project teams are not aware of emerging killer risks.
The risk exposure is greatest at the beginning of projects. The uncertainty is high because there is less information in the beginning of projects. Wise project managers start identifying risks early in their projects. Additionally, capture these risks in your project charter.
Want to know how to improve your risk identification? Identify risks:
There are numerous ways to identify risks. Project managers may want to use a combination of these techniques. For example, the project team may review a checklist in one of their weekly meetings and review assumptions in a subsequent meeting. Here are seven of my favorite risk identification techniques:
Variety is the spice of life. One sure way to have an unengaged team is to use the same risk identification technique repeatedly. Additionally, mixing it up occasionally will help your team think in new ways and improve the identification process.
Write Clear Risk Statements
As you identify risks, you will need to write and capture risk statements in your risk register. One simple and powerful way to do this is to use the If-Then Risk Statements. The metalanguage is: If [Event], Then [Consequences]. For example: If the electrical system is not installed per the specifications, then there may be additional cost and an adverse impact to the schedule.
“They that are on their guard and appear ready to receive their adversaries are in much less danger of being attacked than the supine, secure and negligent.” -
—Benjamin Franklin, Scientist, Publisher, and Diplomat
Think about it. Ninety percent of all risks can be eliminated or greatly reduced through basic risk management.
Take note of these risk identification mistakes:
Consider reviewing this blog post and refine the risk identification strategy for your current or upcoming projects. Additionally, capture the approach in your Risk Management Plan. Once you've identified your project risks, you are ready to evaluate your risks.
Hey, if you wish to boost your project risk management knowledge and skills further, check out The PMI-RMP® for Project Managers.
Harry Hall, PMP, PMI-RMP
Harry Hall, the Project Risk Coach, is a speaker, teacher, author, and blogger. He has implemented enterprise and IT PMOs and enterprise risk management (ERM) programs in the financial, healthcare, and agricultural industries. One of Harry's greatest joys is teaching, helping project managers pass their Project Management Professional (PMP®) and Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP®) exams.
Risk Identification Checklist. Ninety percent of all project risks can be greatly reduced by simply identifying the risks. Grab this checklist and start identifying your project risks.
Bonus: I will send you a sequence of emails where I describe each of the seven risk identification techniques in detail.
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