Identification Techniques for Project Risk Management

Instructor: Pranav Patel
This lesson discusses the techniques involved in identifying project risks using tools such as documentation reviews, information gathering, brainstorming, checklist analysis, among others.

Identifying Project Risks

Even with the most carefully crafted project plan the unexpected arises and you can find yourself completely off course. Identifying possible risks prior to starting the project can help alleviate some of the effects of events that were not accounted for in the project plan. These risk identification techniques can also be used through the course of a project to ensure new risks that arise are accounted for.

Tools for Identifying Risks

Project managers can use several tools to identify risks in a project. They include documentation reviews, information gathering, brainstorming, checklist analysis, assumption analysis, diagramming, SWOT analysis and expert judgment techniques.

Documentation reviews involve reviewing project documentation such as project plans, resource schedules, scoping documents, and requirement documents for any inconsistencies. An example would be the scoping document asking for something to be completed with a high level of detail while the project plan only accounts for a very short duration.

Information gathering consists of talking to experts and looking at historic documents for similar projects that can help identify risks. As the saying goes, ''history repeats itself''. While we may not be able to stop history from repeating itself, we can be better prepared in the event a similar risk arises.

Brainstorming involves gathering team members and knowledgeable people in a room to think of any possible risks that arise. It helps to have varying backgrounds and job functions in the room so you can get different perspectives.

Checklist analysis involves looking at historic documentation and creating a list of everything that was noted from the previous project. This technique is typically used if the project manager has little understanding of the type of project they are working on.

Sometimes at the beginning of a project, leadership will make certain assumptions the project needs to adhere to. This next technique called assumption analysis looks back at the original assumption after a significant portion of the project planning has taken place to ensure the assumptions are still valid. If you plan based on invalid assumptions your project could derail quickly.

Diagramming techniques like using Fishbone Diagrams (also known as Ishikawa Diagrams) are an effective way to identify potential root causes for a problem. The diagram includes a central ''spine'' with several branches, which looks like a fish skeleton. This diagram is useful because by looking at all the possibilities you can see where possible risks may lie.

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