Risk Assessment Checklist

Friday, 25 January 2013
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With the recent launch of Acumen Risk™ facilitating a team-oriented risk assessment workshop is easier than ever.  However, it is still important to remember ten key factors to ensuring that the results of the workshop are both accurate and reliable.

Risk Assessment Checklist

Ten Factors for Ensuring Realistic and Accurate Risk Workshop Results

1. Tune the team into why you are having a risk workshop.

You are more likely to get true participation from the project team members if they understand the reasoning behind having a risk workshop in the first place.  One of the clearest reasons to conduct a workshop is the improved reliability of the project plan.  

2. Conduct pre-workshop discovery sessions.

Make sure the project team is familiar with the schedule being used for the risk workshop.  Conduct regular schedule reviews with the team prior to the workshop and use a tool such as Acumen Risk™  which allows you to use the native Primavera or Microsoft Project plan for the risk analysis.  This eliminates having to create a separate rolled-up or summarized copy of the plan that the team won’t recognize.  

3. Employ a 3rd party workshop facilitator for truly independent assessment.

A key role of the workshop facilitator is to gain consensus on realistic risk input values for developing the risk model.  This process is much purer and realistic with an unbiased, 3rd party representative facilitating. 

4. Perform a well structured workshop – know the project schedule prior.

Again, make sure the team is familiar with the schedule being used for risk workshops – this is truly important in ensuring their input into uncertainty and risk events is accurately captured.  Input can be skewed and workshops can easily be de-railed if the team doesn’t recognize the schedule they are being asked to evaluate for risk. 

5. Adopt the Uncertainty Factor™ approach.  

All too often teams are asked to quantify minimum/most likely/maximum values for each activity.  This makes gaining consensus on the values extremely difficult.  Instead, use the Acumen Uncertainty Factor™ approach where activities or groups of activities are given a degree of realism/aggressiveness.  Learn more about this approach by reading The Art and Science of Risk Workshops. 

6. Don’t overlook risk registers and risk events – they carry large impact.

Separate out risk events (unforeseen events that impact the schedule or cost estimate) from uncertainty (the team’s buy-in on the realism of planned durations and costs).  This leads to a much more accurate risk model and the ability to attribute risk exposure to a certain event or a certain activity.  

7. Brainstorm mitigation plans during the workshop.

Identifying mitigation options early on in the project lifecycle and including them in the risk analysis process provides options for where to focus these efforts.  It also allows you to see where the biggest bang for you buck is in terms of mitigation plans. 

8. Keep the workshop group to a manageable size.

You want the key domain experts and work package leaders involved in the risk input process along with the project managers and schedulers.  However, too large of a group can slow down the process.  Opt for a balanced group that allows for efficient, consensus driven participation. 

9. Leave team hierarchies outside of the workshop – everyone has their say.

The most accurate risk models are built from inputs gathered and agreed upon by all sides of the project team.  

10. Hold periodic workshops in alignment with the likes of project/gate reviews.

Periodic updates of the risk model let you see how your project has progressed and take into account any changes or delays incurred since the last risk review.  

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