Oct 12

Project Risk Assessment EXAMPLES

Risks, contrary to issues, may happen during the life of a project but not necessarily will. You’ll want to identify the risks that really threaten the project – those with high “probability * impact” indicator. How to carry out project risk assessment? Let’s look at examples…

Project risk assessment is a single step (to be repeated periodically) in project management…

Example 1: “Travel to Baikal Lake” project

2 months, older car, from Western Europe. Project risk assessment example

Tent mountains dawn

Everybody should place this project on their bucket list.

 Risk  Probability  Impact, consequence (1-5) Priority (probability * impact)  Response
The car will break down  80%  2  160 While there are plenty of service shops and Jack-of-All-Trades dispersed around Russia, the itinerary includes desolated areas. A car mechanic will take part in the journey.
An expedition member getting ill 90% 1 90 Medicines and pain killers will be taken.
Your car being stolen 10% 5 50 This is worse than a crash as you’re gonna loose both car and travel gear. The itinerary must exclude cities and leaving the car unattended along highways.
Border crossing and police-related troubles 50% 1 50 Inform yourself up-front. Read accounts of expeditions to Russia. Have spare cash.
Fatal car crash  10%  4  40 Research chances of car rental around Russia and how costly a surcharge for returning the car to a different location is. Obtain a credit card. Consider insurance.
You’ll meet your future better half en route  5%  1  5 Just keep a bottle of premium Cologne in the trunk.

With 160 priority ratio your car immobile and stranded without a spare in the middle of nowhere is obviously the greatest risk to the project.

With catastrophic impact of 5 look closer to the risk of the car being driven away by a stranger…

Note the single opportunity registered in the table above.


Example 2: Running a marketing campaign

car dealer, on-line media. Project risk assessment example

Car ad project

Appealing theme is half the battle.

Risk Probability Impact, consequence (1-5) Priority (probability * impact) Response
The competition simultaneously launching their campaigns 70% 2 140 Allow 50% of “regular budget” for extra bidding. Optimize you copy during the campaign to maintain quality score above competition’s levels.
Broken links. People click and get 404 errors 30% 4 120 Simple solutions to this risk exist. (1) Cross-check – another person clicking through all the links, and (2) involve a detail-oriented person into the project. Include a phone number on banners.
Banners are a flop. For unknown reason people don’t click them 30% 3 90 Surprisingly likely is this negative reception of your graphics or the headline. Prepare two or three distinct projects. And brace yourself for replacing them if they all fail.
You’re running into legal issues 3% 4 12 Fine print not properly written + a pesky client and you may end up in court. Do be brave and have an attorney at hand.

With 140 priority ratio the competitors’ marketing activities are the greatest risk to this project.

A lawsuit from an customer ranks amazingly low. Thus use common sense ;)



  • Take your time. Your team is not likely to do the profound risk assessment during a single day or a week.
  • Consider opportunities (“positive” risks) in the risk assessment as well
  • Finally utilize the “Response” column to add tasks to you project


Now what makes a great tool for the project risk assessment?

For personal projects MS Excel might be enough.

However, with professional JIRA-managed projects with massive number of risks you’ll be better off with some form of graphical representation. Risk Matrix in our BigPicture add-on for JIRA, might prove effective. Example 1, “Travel to Baikal Lake” project’s risk assessment would look like this:

Project risk matrix in JIRA BigGantt add-on

Note that both the colors of risks’ border-left ribbons and the arrows in the boxes stand for the same – the priority of a given risk. While the border-lefts have been automatically calculated by BigGantt, the red, orange and green arrows have been assigned arbitrarily by a user. Luckily the bottom right corner of the matrix is empty, so we’ve got no critical risks in the project.

Dane mapy
Dane do Mapy ©2016 Google, INEGI, ORION-ME
Dane mapyDane do Mapy ©2016 Google, INEGI, ORION-ME
Dane do Mapy ©2016 Google, INEGI, ORION-ME