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Creating a Risk Register

Really, you don’t know what a risk register is? No worries! Linda Richter shares a brief overview of how to establish this essential yet underappreciated tool in an article for Bright Hum PM. A risk register operates kind of like those speed radar guns used by highway police. If a particular risk has crossed a threshold that identifies it as a threat to the project, the risk manager can give chase to arrest the offending risk.

See the Risk

A big component of risk management deals with risk visibility – not only for the risk manager but for all stakeholders involved in the project or process. A standard Excel document will capture the pertinent information needed to track and assess risks in the project, particularly in the form of tables that contain the following categories:

  • Date
  • Risk Description
  • Risk Type
  • Occurrence Likelihood
  • Risk Severity
  • Counteractions
  • Risk Owner 
  • Risk Status

Record the Risk

This is by no means the authoritative list of categories to include in the register. PRINCE2 and PMBOK have their own prescriptive measures for evaluating risk. The important thing is to know how to properly use the register. The need for creating a register begins when the project plan is approved. It ends when the project is over, but is never deleted (risk registers are a great source of information for future projects, especially if they resemble past projects).

Track the Risk

For the duration of a project, consistently update the register, being sure to include active risks in the project status report for each period according to established thresholds. Each new risk is identified with a number and a unique identifier so that it can be accessed throughout the project lifecycle. Define the risk according to specific terms such as “high” or “medium,” “near-term” or “far-term”. Keep in mind that something already happening is not a risk – it is an issue!

Read the full article 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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