What Everybody Ought To Know…About Risk Owners

Imagine that you are the project manager of a two-year, multi-million dollar project. During the execution of your project, you take a beach vacation.

One of your team members calls upset that a major risk has occurred. You cooly reply, “No problem.” You text the risk owner and discover that the risk response plan is being executed and everything is fine.

Is this scenario possible? One thing is for sure. If we don’t identify and recruit risk owners, this will never happen. Your project will be at greater risk.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhoto.com

Photo courtesy of DollarPhoto.com

What is a Risk Owner?

A risk owner is the person who is responsible for monitoring their risks and executing risk responses when appropriate. Risk owners often aid in defining the risk response plans and in performing qualitative risk analysis and the quantitative risk analysis for their risks.

 How to Identify Risk Owners

When you identify risk owners, consider the following criteria:

  • Who best understands the causes, the risk, and the impact?
  • Who will be willing to monitor the risk?
  • Who will be responsive if the risk occurs?
  • Who has risk management experience?

 When to Identify Risk Owners

During the Planning Process, project managers work with stakeholders to identify risks. As risks are identified, you may wish to ask who might serve as the risk owner. If it’s not obvious, ask for potential candidates.

If you did not identify a risk owner when identifying the risk, you will need to make that decision when developing the risk response plan.

Note: Only the most significant risks need a risk owner and risk response plan. When developing your Risk Management Plan, determine the criterion for when a risk owner is required.

How to Recruit Risk Owners

Imagine that your team and stakeholders have identified a risk and identified a strong candidate for the risk owner. How will you get someone to take on this responsibility?

  • Explain the project and why the project is important to your organization
  • Explain the risk that has been identified
  • Tell the candidate why they were identified as a candidate (i.e., expertise, knowledge, experience)
  • Ask the candidate to serve as the risk owner

For senior level resources in your organization, you may ask the project sponsor to help establish the risk owner.

 Who Monitors the Effectiveness of Risk Owners?

For larger projects, you may conduct risk audits during the Control Risk process. Part of the audit is to evaluate the effectiveness of the risk owners. Risk audits may be performed by the project manager, the project team, or an external audit team.

Creating a Risk Aware Culture

Culture eats strategy every time. People resist change. It takes time to get people to buy into risk management. Be the risk evangelist. Educate stakeholders on the value of risk ownership.

Question: What has aided you the most in recruiting risk owners?


Become a more effective project risk manager.