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Friday, July 22, 2011

Points to Remember: Project Risk Management

A risk is any uncertain event or condition that might affect your project.

Not all risks are negative. Some events (like finding an easier way to do an activity) or conditions (like lower prices for certain materials) can help your project! When this happens, we call it an opportunity… but it’s still handled just like a risk.

Risk Breakdown Structure (RBS) is a great tool for managing your risk categories. It looks like a WBS, except instead of tasks it shows how the risks break down into categories.

It’s important to come up with probability and impact guidelines to help you figure out how big a risk’s impact is. The impact tells you how much damage the risk will cause to your project. A lot of projects classify impact on a scale from minimal to severe, or from very low to very high. The plan should also give you a scale to help figure out the probability of the risk. Some risks are very likely; others aren’t.

All four of the Risk Management processes are in the Planning process group—you need to plan for your project’s risks before you start executing the project.

The goal of all of the risk planning processes is to produce the risk register. That’s your main weapon against risk. It’s a list of all of the risks and some initial ideas about how you’d respond to them.

The risk register is built into the Risk Management Plan. Updates to the risk register are the only output of the Identify Risks process.

Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis helps you prioritize each risk and figure out its probability and impact. The only output of Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis is the updated risk register.

Sometimes you’ll find that some risks have obviously low probability and impact, so you won’t put them in the main section of your register. Instead, you can add them to a separate section called the watchlist, which is just a list of risks. It’ll include risks you don’t want to forget about, but which you don’t need to track as closely. You’ll check your watchlist from time to time to keep an eye on things.

The first step in risk management is Identify Risks, where you work with the whole team to figure out what risks could affect your project.

Qualitative and quantitative analysis are all about ranking risks based on their probability and impact.

Qualitative analysis is where you take the categories in your risk plan and assign them to each of the risks that you’ve identified.

Quantitative analysis focuses on gathering numbers to help evaluate risks and make the best decisions about how to handle them.

Decision Tree Analysis is one kind of Expected Monetary Value analysis. It focuses on adding up all of the costs of a decisions being made on a project so that you can see the overall value of risk responses.

To calculate EMV, be sure to treat all negative risks as negative numbers and all opportunities as positive ones. Then add up all of the numbers on your decision tree.

Don’t forget watchlists. They let you monitor lower-priority risks so that you can see if triggers for those risks occur and you need to treat them as higher priorities.

All of the processes in Risk Management are Planning or Monitoring & Controlling processes. There are no Executing processes here. Since the goal is to plan for risks, there is no need to focus on actually doing the work. By then, it’s too late to plan for risks.

Your risk register should include both threats and opportunities. Opportunities have positive impact values, while threats have negative ones. Don’t forget the plus or minus sign when you’re calculating EMV.

Plan Risk Responses is figuring out what you’ll do if risks happen.

Risk monitoring should be done at every status meeting.

The better you prepare for risks, the more secure your project is against the unknown.

Points to Remember - Other Topics:

Introduction to Projects & Project Management
Relationship Between Knowledge Areas & Process Groups
Project Integration Management
Project Scope Management
Project Time Management
Project Cost Management
Project Quality Management
Human Resource Management
Project Communication Management
Project Procurement Management
Ethics & Professional Responsibility

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