What are the 12 Key Elements of a Project Risk Register Template?

key elements of a Project Risk Register TemplateYour Project Risk Register Template is a handy tool to add structure and consistency to your project risk management process.

Using this template framework puts you in the lead to quickly and easily carry out a complete risk management process. You identify, assess and treat risks, and bring your project team and stakeholders along on the journey.

Here are the 12 key elements of a Project Risk Register template together with some examples to help you understand how the process works.

Elements 1 to 3 record the results of the Risk Identification phase.

1. Risk Category – This is where you categorize your risk. Does it fall under the category of scope, time, cost, resources, environmental, or another key category? Using these categories helps tease out likely risks and groups them into relevant categories for future reference.

2. Risk Description – A brief description of the potential risk. For instance, the first potential risk identified in the Resources category is: “There is conflict over resources and team members don’t have enough time due to competing demands.”

3. Risk ID – This is a unique identification number used to identify and track the risk in the risk register. If Resources is Category 8, then the first risk identified in this category has a unique ID of 8.1.

Elements 4 to 6 record the results of the Risk Analysis phase.

4. Project Impact – A description of the potential impact on the project as a result of the risk. For example: The project schedule may slip, budget may increase and project scope may not be achieved.”

5. Likelihood – The estimated likelihood or probability that the risk will occur at some point and become a project issue. This can be qualitative: high, medium, or low; but it can also be quantitative if enough information is available. For our example, we know that resources have been over-committed in the past and we assess the likelihood of occurrence as “High.”

6. Consequence – The potential consequence or impact of the risk if it did become a project issue. For our project, time is a fixed constraint, and so any risk that has the potential to significantly delay the project schedule has a “High” consequence.

Elements 7 and 8 record the outcomes of the Risk Evaluation phase.

7. Risk Rank – This is the magnitude or the level of the risk. It is a combination of likelihood and consequence. As they are both “High” in our example, then the risk rank is also “High.”
8. Risk Trigger – What are the triggers that would indicate the need to implement contingency plans? “If resource conflicts have not been resolved three weeks before the scheduled start date, then implement contingency plans.”

These last four elements record the outcomes of the Risk Treatment phase.

9. Prevention Plan – This is an action plan to prevent the risk from occurring. For our example, the Prevention Plan includes: Liaise with functional managers and team members to pre-empt future conflicts; and specify and agree resource needs (staff and equipment) with functional managers.

10. Contingency Plan – This is an action plan to address the risk if it does occur. For our example, the Contingency Plan includes: “Train and up-skill existing team members in combination with HR department.”

11. Risk Owner – This is the person responsible for managing the risk and implementing the Prevention or Contingency Plans. Stakeholders, members of the project team, the Project Manager and the Project Sponsor can all be risk owners.

12. Residual Risk – This is the risk that remains after treatment is carried out. After treatment, we assess the residual risk level as “Low.”

It makes sense to belong to the group that uses smart tools to quickly undertake a comprehensive risk management process that covers all the necessary steps. A Risk Register Template is an indispensable tool to help you achieve that outcome.

For busy professionals who need to meet continuing professional development requirements and boost their career opportunities, our online courses provide a flexible and cost-effective way to achieve this by providing anywhere, anytime access and a supportive online community. Continuing Professional Development offers a series of online project management courses to advance your project management skills and career. Our Risk Management Online Course, which includes an Excel Project Risk Register Template, gives you the practical skills to develop a comprehensive risk management process. You can purchase it separately, or as part of our bundled course Project Management Essentials-Part 2.

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About the Author

Vivian’s career in professional engineering spanned 35 years of technical, business, management and governance experience. She draws on her industry experience to write articles that are practical and relevant to a wide range of readers. Her aim is to get you thinking and help you meet your continuing professional development requirements.


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