How to identify risks

How to identify risks

What is risk management?  It is an interesting question. You start with the understanding of how to identify risks and then work towards documenting them and development of a mitigation strategy.

Most people would describe risk management as the identification and mitigation for an event that is likely to cause disruption to a desired outcome.  In the project management space this is about what things might happen to have an impact on the successful delivery of the desired project outcome.

There are a group of people within an organisation that are underutilised or should I say not listened to that are the best at assisting a Project Manager with risk identification and they are the detractors, or the people that are what we would call ‘resistant to the change’ that is, or will be, occurring.

These people are the best at telling you what shouldn’t be done and why.  They have very legitimate reasons for expressing things the way that they do.  They are usually the people who have been around in the business the longest, seen the things that have worked, and what hasn’t and understand how the people and systems operate in the business.

They are also the best ones to test your mitigation strategy with.  They will be sure to highlight why it won’t work, or perhaps, even why it will.

Seek out these people.  They are likely to be the ones making the loudest noise about the project, even before it’s started.  Ask others in the business area that isn’t happy about this project occurring or eventuating.

Treat these people as your prized information holders.  Be serious about engaging them.  If you do, and you really listen to what they will have to say, by doing this you will gain their trust and they will then likely become your biggest advocates and supporters.

I have found that speaking to them one by one works, but if you want to get adventurous, then get a group of them in a room together.  What a way to hold a Pre Mortem.



Written by Karen Munro

*Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at