Product and Project Risk Assessment and Mitigation Tables


Quick Summary
Screenshot Risk Assessment tables used during the early project selection process for documenting product risks, as well as several more detailed risk assessment categories for projects moving into full-blown planning. This expanded version includes contributions from Global Brain Inc.'s Quality Rapid Product Development methodology. There are formats and guidelines for assessing the true risks in areas such as market competition, technical innovations, and the nuts-and-bolts, boring-but-potentially-painful things like resource shortages and vendor/partner delivery delays.


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What this is

This file contains an overview explanation of risk management and several examples of Risk Assessment Tables to be used during the early project selection process and during detailed investigation and planning work. The goal is to ensure that technical and non-technical risks are factored into decisions about launching a project, as well as full project planning, so risks will be managed proactively. Specific techniques for uncovering risks based on innovations or inherent in critical dependencies are included.


Why it's useful

During the early days of the project, a project idea should be quickly evaluated for business benefit, potential scope, and level of risk, so the company can decide whether itÕs worth approving a project to go forward at all. Making a very early first cut at risk assessment supplies critical information for this Go/No-Go decision. It also flags the project team on areas where they will need to do a more involved risk assessment, as well as prevention and contingency planning, if the project gets a Go.

Once initially given a go-ahead, the new project idea is investigated, implementation alternatives are defined, solutions chosen, and the entire project planned in more detail. Risks must also be assessed in more detail and evaluated carefully to understand their potential impact on project costs, schedule, and scope; to judge the viability of the project or particular solutions; and to ensure adequate time and money are included in the project plan for avoiding risks and handling them if they do occur.


How to use it

  • Be sure to assess different types of risk as applicable to your project:
    • Product or market risks: Items that would help determine whether a project idea gets a Ògo.Ó Strategic fit, competitive positioning, core competencies, and market window opportunity.
    • Innovation or technical risks: Specific risks inherent in the implementation alternatives for a technology-oriented project, including unknowns from dealing with new technologies.
    • Non-technical project risks: resource shortages, vendor risks, schedule uncertainty, etc.
  • During early "concept" work, do an initial high-level risk assessment to inform decisions on whether this project idea should even move forward.
    • Using previous experience with similar projects, expert opinions on relevant technologies, and brainstorming with a cross-functional group, list as many high-level risk items as possible in Template 1 in this document.
    • Score them (HighÐMediumÐLow) for their potential impact on product success, probability of occurrence, and the difficulty of detecting them during the entire lifecycle (not just development).
    • See the instructions with that table for further information.
  • During project initiation, investigation, and planning work, refine the initial risk list as the team defines the project goals, requirements, and possible solutions.
    • Select from Templates 2, 3, and 4 to do an appropriate level of qualitative and quantitative risk analysis for your project.
    • Use your Risk Assessment Tables to communicate about project threats to ensure that enough time and money are allocated for dealing proactively with these issues.
    • Ensure that your project plans include concrete actions for monitoring and managing the risks.
  • Through the rest of the project, continue to scan for new risks, monitor all identified risks, and manage all plans the team has put in place to avoid the risks or minimize their impact.
    • Keep the risks visible to the team. Use the Risk Assessment Table as a review tool in each team meeting. Call the team's attention to upcoming trigger dates for backup plans.
    • Update it as new risks are identified, and as existing risks are conquered.

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Related Templates
Project Risk Checklist
This risk checklist prompts your team to consider common risks across a wide variety of categories, to reduce the odds of missing one of those dreaded "unknown-unknowns."

Risk Management Plan
A high-level plan/outline for ensuring consistent implementation of risk management across an organization, or across a division or group within an organization.

Opportunity Screening Worksheet
Used to help determine if an idea is worth enough to the company to commission a product development project.



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