How to create a risk register

A Risk Register, also referred to as a Risk Log, is a master document which is created during the early stages of your project. It is a tool that plays an important part in your Risk Management Plan, helping you to track issues and address problems as they arise.

The Risk Register will generally be shared between project stakeholders, allowing those involved in the project to be kept aware of issues and providing a means of tracking the response to issues. It can be used to flag new project risks and to make suggestions on what course of action to take to resolve any issues.

All corporate and organizational projects face risk at one time or another. Having a Risk Register in place simply provides a better means of responding to problems as they arise. The Risk Register is there to help with the decisions making process and enables managers and project stakeholders to handle risk in the most appropriate way. A risk needn't be a threat to your project, it is simply an issue that can arise during the project; if effectively managed, it shouldn't prevent your project from attaining its goals and objectives.

The Risk Register is a document that contains information about identified project risks, analysis of risk severity and evaluations of the possible solutions to be applied. Presenting this in a spreadsheet if often the easiest way to manage things, so that key information can be found and applied quickly and easily.

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If you're unsure how to create a Risk Register and the following the following is a brief guide on how to get started in just a few steps:

  • Create the Risk Register - this step will be undertaken when the project plan is approved and the Risk Section of the project plan should serve as the basis for the document.
  • Record active risks - keep track of active risks by recording them in the Risk Register along with the date identified, date updated, target date and closure date. Other useful information to include is the risk identification number, a description of the risk, type and severity of risk, its impact, possible response action and the current status of risk.
  • Assign a unique number to each risk element - this will help to indentify each unique risk, so that you know if that risk eventuates during the project and what the status of the risk is at any given time. Keeping this number consistent throughout the project will make it easy to see how this risk links in to the Project Status Report, Risk Identification and Risk Impact Form.
  • The risk register addresses risk management in four key steps: (1) identifying the risk, (2) evaluating the severity of any identified risks, (3) applying possible solutions to those risks and (4) monitoring and analysing the effectiveness of any subsequent steps taken.

    By learning how to create a Risk Register, you can be proactive about managing your projects and handling any risks associated with them. Any issues that are likely to impact upon the success of your project and the speedy completion of the project is categorised as risk. Implementing strategies to handle this, such as a risk register, will help to prevent risk from becoming an issue that may cause significant delays or even lead to the project failing.

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