Project Management


last edited by: Ramakrishna CH PMP on Oct 12, 2007 4:58 PM login/register to edit this page

Risk describes a factor that may have a negative OR a positive impact on a project. A positive risk is also called an opportunity in general. Risk is quantified by measuring the probability of an unexpected event occurring with an impact that event would have on your project.

In Project HEADWAY, one of the tasks in the Justify stage is Determine Key Risk Factors and Failure Indicators. In this task, two categories of risk are identified:

Business Risks Business risks are the risks to the organization should the initiative fail to deliver its expected value. At this early stage, the organization needs to understand how the success or failure of this specific initiative will affect the organization.

Project Risks Project risks are risks that can have an impact on the objectives or success of the project itself. These are typically dealt with after the project is initiated and moves into the planning stage.

Tips and tricks on identifying risk from Project HEADWAY In most organizations, management often has less tolerance for risk than the average employee. Given that, it is important to address their concerns about risk as much as possible. When defining the risks of the initiative, be sure to consider the following:

  • Clearly identify the risks. Clearly identify the risks associated with the initiative as a whole and the specific risks associated with the different scenarios you are describing. Where is the organization most likely to get burnt in the initiative?
  • Include the risks of maintaining the status quo. What will happen if the organization does nothing? In some cases, a simple opportunity will be lost. Nothing more. Nothing less. However, in other cases, the organization may find that by not proceeding with the initiative, the organization is severely impacted.
  • Define how the risks can be negated or mitigated by proceeding with the initiative. Now that you have actually defined the risks, how will your project turn those risks into benefits?
  • Remember: The clearer you present your numbers and the scope of the business case, the easier it will be to identify risks indicators.

  • Define success and completion indicators. As well as defining risk indicators, be sure to define success and completion indicators as well. How do we know the initiative is complete? How do we know it was successful? What are the triggers that indicate the initiative is not producing what we expect it to?
  • Include the drawbacks. Don’t be afraid to include the drawbacks to the various scenarios. It is better to be honest about the initiative than to try to hide the bad points.

last edited by: Ramakrishna CH PMP on Oct 12, 2007 4:58 PM login/register to edit this page


"In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed - but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

- Orson Welles, The Third Man