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Risk Management: Keeping Track of Risk and Utilizing a Risk Manager

written by: Joe Taylor Jr. • edited by: Marlene Gundlach • updated: 5/18/2013

Risks can change over the course of a project, which means that tracking is a crucial part of your company’s risk management process. Knowing how elevated risks can change the outcome of your mission can determine the resources you assign to them.

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    The Risk Database

    Having collected a first round of prospective risks from project participants, the project manager and the risk officer can collaborate on a risk database. Also known as a risk matrix, this information warehouse catalogs the real-time threats to any project’s success. As the project manager takes on more oversight duties, the risk officer can start to take a day-to-day or week-to-week approach to feeding information into the database and gaining insight on key decisions.

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    Assigning Responsibility for Risk

    However, the risk officer cannot come up with solutions for project threats without help from the rest of the project team. To that end, the project manager and the risk officer can share the task of assigning a team member to each risk listed in the database. That way, team members can hold each other accountable for minimizing or monitoring threats.

    Although a risk officer may contact team members about risk-related tasks that have been ignored or gone overdue, a project manager is ultimately responsible for keeping team members focused on the right activity. For their relationship to work effectively, risk officers and project managers must coordinate the efforts of fellow team members.

    Too much time spent on managing risks can cause projects to fall behind schedule. Likewise, an aggressive task schedule that ignores risk completely can result in catastrophe. Therefore, measuring a project’s progress against the resistance posed by risks helps remind leaders to keep activity in balance.

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    Keeping the Risk Database Up to Date

    In some cases, a risk can be entirely eliminated or contained during the implementation and monitoring phases of the project cycle. Noting such a change in status can help project managers and risk officers reallocate resources to other risks or to main project tasks.

    Some teams like to keep a live risk matrix, using a shared spreadsheet, database, or online tracking tool. Other teams prefer to task the risk officer with coordinating all communication related to risk management, and reporting in meetings or via memos on a regular basis. The severity of the risk and the importance of the project can help determine the right method for tracking risk.

Risk Management

Although companies use the phrase “risk management" to refer to numerous initiatives, project management professionals focus their efforts on predicting the events that might cause projects to fail. Appointing a risk officer, tracking risk, and reporting risk contribute to overall effectiveness.
  1. Using Risk Management Plans to Prevent Project Failure
  2. Risk Management: The Risk Officer
  3. Risk Management: Keeping Track of Risk and Utilizing a Risk Manager
  4. Policies For Risk Management: Risk Reporting
  5. Risk Management: Measuring Effectiveness