The Project Management Institute added a new risk strategy in the Sixth Edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge. Let's take a look at what it means to escalate risks and how to escalate risks, both threats and opportunities.
Escalation is one of the eight ways to treat risks.The PMBOK® Guide–Sixth Edition says:
"Escalation is appropriate when the project team or the project sponsor agrees that a threat is outside the scope of the project or that the proposed response would exceed the project manager's authority. Escalated risks are managed at the program level, portfolio level, or other relevant part of the organization, and not on the project level. The project manager determines who should be notified about the threat and communicates the details to that person or part of the organization. It is important that ownership of escalated threats is accepted by the relevant party in the organization."
The language for escalating opportunities is nearly identical, interchanging the term threat with opportunity.
Every organization has risks at various levels such as teams, departments, business units, and an enterprise level. Projects touch different parts of the organization. Project managers discover all kinds of risks, some that are within the scope of the project and others that are not.
What should a project manager do when a risk is identified that is outside the scope of the project? Escalate the risk. Here are three takeaways.
Do you have risks in your project risk register that should be escalated? Work with your project sponsor and other key stakeholders to clarify the risks, determine the true risk owners, and ensure ownership at the right level of your organization.
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