Goal: Identify new risks

A risk is an event or condition that, if it occurs, might adversely affect a project. Risk management is the process of identifying, mitigating, and controlling the known risks in order to increase the probability of meeting your project objectives. For example, a bike manufacturer designs a new bike with new composite materials. If the manufacturer isn't sure the new material will stand up to long road rides, the risk of the project being unsuccessful and unprofitable may increase. Developing and implementing a risk strategy to reduce damage and continuing to monitor the project for new risks can help you keep the project on schedule.

Tip: This article is part of a series of articles within the Project Map that describe a broad set of project management activities. We call these activities "goals" because they are organized around the project management life cycle: Build a plan, track and manage a project, and close a project.

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person on a tightrope

number 1 Identify the high-risk tasks     Examine those tasks that are most likely to take longer than expected, end beyond their finish dates, delay the start or finish of other tasks, or cause the project to finish late.

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  • Review the progress of your schedule to spot any variances from your original plan that might put the project end date at risk.

  • Show the critical path to see the critical tasks that are at risk of slipping, which could delay the project end date.

  • Show tasks with external dependencies to see which tasks might be delayed by tasks outside your project, thus increasing the risk of missing the project end date.

  • Review task constraints to see the tasks that are constrained and must start or finish on or near a specific date, and to see the tasks whose start and finish dates Microsoft Office Project 2007 can't recalculate as the schedule changes.

  • Create a visual report that will help you discover tasks that are at risk, by viewing your project's data in PivotTable reports in Microsoft Office Excel 2007 and PivotDiagram views in Visio 2007.

  • Create and print a basic report to determine which tasks are at risk, such as tasks that are slipping or that did not start on time.

  • Use a PERT analysis to estimate task durations so that you can estimate which tasks have more risk than others.

Number 2 Identify the budget risks     View and handle those tasks that are over budget, likely to become over budget, or likely to cause the whole project to go over budget.

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Number 3 Identify the resource risks     Your project may be at risk if you are using resources that are highly specialized or only available through limited suppliers, if the resources are not being used efficiently, or if they are working on multiple projects.

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Number 4 Define your risks     After you identify potential risks, you can use Microsoft Office Project Web Access to capture risk information so that you can analyze the impact of risks if they occur.

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