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What is the Most Important Risk Information to Report to Senior Management?

How much does senior management really need to know? They need to know when the building is on fire of course, but do they need to know when one of the stairs is making a squeaking noise too? This is what Michelle Symonds discloses in an illuminating post for PM Hut. Here is what she has to say:

When you’re managing a particularly complex project which runs for a long time and involves several different work streams, it can be difficult to know the best way to communicate problems and potential risks to senior management.

Rule of Thumb

The way a risk manager informs superiors will vary by organization, job role, and project type. Although there is no single way to go about reporting risk, as a rule of thumb, it’s best to get a feel for your disclosure strategy during project management training. As another general guideline, Symonds advises to stay away from delivering particular results, while embracing others:

Good Disclosure

  • open risks
  • overall risks 

Bad Disclosure 

  • full risk totals
  • closed risks 
  • low risks

Manager’s-Eye View

Denoting the level of impacts is also of significance. For instance, how will risks impact a project budget? To get a better feel for the perspective of executive management, try imagining risks from a managerial viewpoint. Talk to stakeholders. Find out what concerns they have.  

The Right Risks

Presenting management with too many risks simultaneously, as in the case of monthly risk trend reports, can scramble the data. Instead, present a narrow list of crucial risks to determine trends and flashpoints. And, as always, bring forth the highest risks available. If the “highest” risks are different each month, it will reflect well on your efforts.

You can read the entire post at:

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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