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List And Describe Four Methods Of Identifying Risks.

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 16th January 2018

One of our homework questions is
1) Explain the difference between a risk and an issue? (10 marks)
2) List and describe four methods of identifying risk? (40 marks)

But what would a typical answer to the is question look like?

1) Explain the difference between a risk and an issue?
A risk is an event that may occur will have an impact on the project objectives. Whereas an issue is something that is likely to cause the project to go outside tolerance and need to be escalated to the next level. In practice, risk tend to be in the future and so project managers have time to prepare risk reduction measures to control the impact on the project. Issues, on the other hand, tend to be much more certain and immediate. Notice from the definition that issues are not absolutely certain but in practice, they have or are extremely likely to cause a problem. Issues also need to be significant and require escalation. A small problem that the project manager can deal with is not an issue. A problem such as the realisation that the benefits are no longer viable is significant and will need to be escalated to the next level of management.

2) List and describe four methods of identifying risk?
1) Brainstorming
2) Prompt lists
3) Check lists
4) Delphi

1) Brainstorming is a technique which involves bringing the team together to generate a large number of risk quickly in a creative way. Ideally, a brainstorming session has three phases. First a briefing by a neutral facilitator to set the scene. two a generation of lots of ideas. Sometimes by taking turns, building on the ideas of others and everyone contributing but it’s ok to pass. And finally a collation phase where key ideas are pulled together into themes, duplicates removed and themes summarised. From this final list, the facilitator should create a finalised list of risks for evaluation.

2) Prompt lists are structured areas to consider or headings for risks. These lists often form part of a project management method. Typically they might include technical, commercial, legal, resources, environmental. Which in each area a team can then brainstorm the likely risks. It’s a useful technique to break down a workshop into subgroups. With each team considering one area of the prompt list and then reporting back to the rest of the group. Compared to brainstorming, prompt lists offer structure and ensure that key areas are not neglected.

3) Checklists are predefined lists of risks. These are used to “tick off” risk that applies to a project. These are very useful in areas of the project that are more like business as usual. For example, this could include volume house building or IT desktop installs in a big organisation where the project will perform the same operation many times. Checklists are a good way of capturing and sharing common risks. Again they are often developed and deployed as part of a project management method and are maintained by the project office.

4) Delphi is a way of consulting experts. This is differentiated from brainstorming because the experts don’t meet. The facilitator consults them individually and then a facilitator collates the answers in an iterative process. During this process, the experts comment on the collated results and the risks are updated based on feedback. The process continues until consensus is reached across all the experts. Needless to say this is a very slow and laborious process. Its reserved for the most challenging and difficult projects.