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If risks and opportunities are not identified, they cannot be managed. Risks and opportunities are identified by asking probing questions to the teams who are responsible for attaining the results of the project. Specifically, the teams are asked questions such as:
What assumptions have you made that might not be true?
What are the most likely scenarios for the future?
What could go wrong in these scenarios? What could turn out better than expected?
What concerns do the team have for getting their work done?
Do they have sufficient know-how and resources/capability to do the work?
Methods for listing a potential list of risks that could affect the project both positively and negatively are discussed by linking to this site. Creating an initial list of potential risks.
Once this list of potential risks is created, the next step is to refine the description of these risks by performing a root cause analysis. Most initial descriptions of a risk or concern are centered on obvious surface symptoms or the limited insights by the person who initially identifies the risk. The risk owner my describe a problems as "insufficient number of qualified personnel to complete the work on schedule." To remedy this potential problem, one might consider hiring more qualified people or taking people from another project temporarily. But if the risk were investigated by a root cause analysis, the specific cause of insufficient number of qualified staff could be any of the following:
Lean hiring budget for this project
Ineffective company hiring policy
Over aggressively pursuit of new projects that now exceeds company staffing capability.
Insufficient company training plan
Inefficient work flow plan or project schedule
Once you have developed a starter list of risks, you need to process them so as to "separate the wheat from the chaff". Each of the initial risk statements need to be analyzed with a root cause analysis to find out what is really causing the risk. Then, the risk becomes the presence or existence of the root causes and the remedy becomes the removal or reversal of these root cause conditions.
Caution...do not proceed to define or describe risk until you have completed a root cause analysis . To describe or define a risk prematurely may result in an incorrect diagnosis and suggest remedies that may not solve the problem. Key to the successful identification of a risk is the ability to take an initial list of symptoms and probe deeper to discern the underlying causes. The following link will take you to a separate discussion on how to perform a root cause analysis. Root Cause Analysis
Once you have clearly identified a risk and after performing a root cause analysis, then refer to the following discussion on documenting the identified risk: Risk Identification