Risk Management is one of the well established fundamentals of Project Management. Whatever system or tool you use, the basics of rating risks with some degree of severity and impact is well understood, and then doing something to stop it (because they usually are threats). But I have a challenge for you: look back over your last Project and consider - how many of the issues that occurred along the way were from impacted Risks that were identified on your Risk Log? I predict very few of them. I contend that we are typically very weak at one critical part of Risk Management: Risk Identification. And if you don't identify the potential risk in the first place then there is no way you can manage it - despite any fancy risk processes and tools you may have! This is where we can deploy one very effective process - the Risk Identification Workshop.
The Risk Identification Workshop is carried out during Project Planning, and is essentially a risk brainstorming session to try to identify everything and anything that may impact the Project. It is a proactive exercise to try to identify risk, rather than more typical passive identification mechanisms we see - for example something happens to pop up during estimating or requirements development and is added to the Risk Log. Its purpose isn't to develop detailed descriptions, evaluations or response plans to risks - merely to get first sight of them and get them on the radar.
Risk Identification Workshops work best when all key stakeholders are engaged, and can hopefully attend in a face to face session. Established Risk Prompt Lists can be used, which list a variety of key categories of consideration to the Project. This is essentially applying Lessons Learned to the Project, as historically these categories have been identified as having been sources of Project. Workshop attendees then throw out thoughts and ideas against each category in a positive collaborative environment, brainstorming anything that could later manifest as a risk. This works best with the prompts written on a marker board and post-it notes stuck on with ideas. Then the Project Manager or PMO team member can start to scribe them so they can be analysed and evaluated as a later date - not as part of this session.
Typical Prompt Lists may include:
A simple classic - what are we good at and succeeded at in the past, what are we bad at and have failed at in the past?
This is typically used as Programme or Portfolio level to look at Strategic influences on the future work programme:
Our Project Risk Workshop Template contains these Prompt Lists and others, and allows you to record potential risks identified in your workshops - check it out in our store now! Have you ever used a Risk Identification Workshop in the past, and how did it work for you?
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