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Risks, like problems, cannot be solved if they are not identified. An important first step to managing risks is to identify them. After the risks are identified, the biggest risks are selected first to determine how best to handle so that they have less potential to detract from the value of the project. Equally important to identifying risks (the downside of a decision choice) are the inherent opportunities (the upside).
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 could go wrong?
What concerns does 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 the symptoms associated with the emerging consequences to the person who making the identification. 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 cause of insufficient number of qualified staff could change to any of the following:
Ineffective company hiring policy
Over aggressively pursuit of new projects that now exceeds company capability.
Insufficient company training plan
Inefficient work flow plan or project schedule
If you have not completed a root cause analysis, then do not proceed to write up a description of a risk until you have done so. To write up 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 discuss on how to perform a root cause analysis. Root Cause Analysis
Once you have clearly identified a risk, after performing a root cause analysis, the refer to the following discussion on documenting the identified risk: Risk Identification