Project Risk Tracking and Communication

When taking on a new project, managers (and their teams) are most prepared when they have a solid understanding of the risks that emerge throughout their project’s lifespan. Projecting and planning for those risks and communicating them effectively can be key to any project’s success or failure.

As managers, how can we identify, prioritize, and respond to those risks while also keeping everyone in the loop? By combining two tools; a risk register and a burndown chart. Keep reading and learn this effective method for qualitative and quantitative risk analysis and risk response planning.

In the early stages, the cross-functional team of a project brainstorms and defines potential risks in categories such as performance, schedule, and budget. The team then scores the probability and impact of each threat and documents results in the risk register.

Normally, risks with the highest scores are assigned owners, and hypotheses are created to alleviate each threat.  Ideally, risk should reduce over time as the project team closes knowledge gaps and makes key decisions.

Based on the risk register, a simple burndown chart can be created to visualize the total project risk versus a goal.

The burndown chart can be used by the team to hold themselves accountable as project tasks are prioritized and owners are assigned.  Are we successfully reducing risk at the planned rate?  If yes, polite golf applause; if not, why not?  What problem must be solved? What corrective action can be taken to achieve the goal?

The burndown chart is also a useful tool to share with key stakeholders when providing project updates, storytelling, or requesting assistance to break down barriers.  Updating the risk register and burndown chart is best performed on a regular cadence.  The cross-functional team re-evaluates the probability and impact of each risk and then brainstorms new potential risks.

Get a clearer picture of the risks facing your next project and utilize the risk register/burndown chart combo.

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