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Risk Management 101: Risk Management Systems (#3 in the series Risk Management 101)
By Craig Brown

Risk management systems are tools that are used to track, monitor and manage risks. Often they are a combination of lists of things to watch out for and action plans of things to do. The most common risk management systems are minutes and Excel Sheets, however some organisations have quite sophisticated databases.

What a risk management system needs to do is ensure that risks are known and understood by the project team and the people who need to deal with the risk management actions and potential consequences of risk events. Like most project tools it’s all about communication.

The features a risk management system needs to have to do its job well include:

  • A brief description
  • A list of impacted stakeholders
  • An impact/likelihood assessment
  • A priority or importance rating
  • An owner who is responsible for the risk management plan
  • A description of the risk management plan
  • A status (is it being managed, has it been closed?)

Another important feature of a risk management system is that it is used. The system (Spreadsheet, word doc, etc) needs to be looked at and the items reviewed and monitored. If you are designing your own make sure it is clear and useable. One weakness of risk management systems is that they can get too complex of the users, so consider their knowledge and awareness of risk management systems and design with them in mind.

Craig Brown has worked as a project manager and business analyst mainly in the Australian ITC and the banking industries. He has also worked in the law, education and welfare industries, including starting a law firm. Craig now has a Master’s degree in project management from RMIT university, and is currently working with a Melbourne based IT consulting firm called OptimiseIT. Craig’s personal blog can be found at http://betterprojects.net.

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