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Being aware of potential risk, how it can affect your project and what you can do to mitigate and react to it are the considerable benefits of having a risk assessment plan. Prevention is better than cure as the saying goes and being aware of the potential problems for your project can save you a lot of headaches and potential project failure down the road.

Not only is having a proper risk assessment plan good management practice, it’s also a regulatory requirement for many projects. Creating one that works however isn’t always so easy, but this simple guide should give you a good checklist to follow.

Step 1: Identifying Risk

The first part of creating a risk assessment plan involves gathering the collective knowledge of yourself, your team and appropriate stakeholders and identifying all the potential pitfalls your project faces at each stage of execution.

Step 2: Creating Risk Register

Once risks have been identified, the next task is to get them down on paper and associate them with the relevant phases where they may occur. This is known as the Risk Register and will remain a useful resource and reference document throughout your project.

Step 3: Analyzing Risks

Not all risks are created equal and some have far worse outcomes than others should they come to pass. To categorize risk, it can be good to create a risk analysis matrix, that measures how likely something is to occur, along with the likely impact it will have on the project. This will provide a quick reference point and identify those risks which should be prioritized for monitoring.

Step 4: Identifying Risk Triggers

In general, project risks don’t just appear out of nowhere, there are usually identifying factors that slowly build up along the way which a project manager can take note of in order to prepare for the worst. These are known as project triggers and by creating a list of them associated with each potential problem, your risk assessment plan will be able to flag up issues before they occur.

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Step 5: Ideating Risk Solutions

Despite best efforts, problems will still happen. However, their effects can be lessened if they don’t come as a complete system shock and create a larger crisis. Brainstorming potential solutions for each risk will give you a broad list of actions that can be taken should they occur.

Step 6: Creating an Action Plan

By narrowing down the previous rough list of solutions, you can then create an actual Action Plan, that will come into effect when a problem occurs. This should outline a communication plan of who needs to be informed, as well as the responsible team members and what actions they ought to take to respond to the issue.

Step 7: Risk Monitoring and Responsibility

Though a project manager may have overall responsibility for risk assessment, it is mostly impossible for them to be aware of everything that is happening within a project, especially with larger projects. Thus, it is important for risk assessment and monitoring to be delegated to team members who are best positioned to flag up issues as soon as possible. They will be responsible for communication and liaising with the PM and relevant team members, as well as heading up the risk response actions.