A risk register is a project management tool used to document any possible negative outcome at all stages of a goal. They are typically owned by a team leader with each other member contributing risk data. Each risk receives a ranking determining how important it is to mitigate. These rankings can change over time and spark crucial conversations about how to optimize your project for the best possible outcome.
- How to Create a Risk Register
- What is the purpose of a risk register?
- Risk Register Templates
- Free Risk Register Templates in Google Docs
- Free Risk Register Templates in Google Sheets
- Free Risk Register Templates in Word
- Free Risk Register Template Excel
- Free Risk Register Template Download
- Free Online Tools to Create a Risk Register Template
Risk register template is useful in any project risk management plan / environment. They are never considered “finalized,” making them a great fit for Agile and other methodologies where circumstances change constantly. They are also ideal for brainstorming, compliance tracking, and keeping your team within scope, even in Waterfall environments or other settings where the pace is more relaxed.
Using a risk register template can help you when you are designing and executing your project. Each template is easily adaptable as your project grows and circumstances change. They can also save you time compared to designing and formatting your own document or spreadsheet. Read on to learn more about using a risk register template and explore the best online templates to get your team started.
Full PMBOK Definition on Risk Register
The risk register captures details of identified individual project risks. The results of Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis, Plan Risk Responses, Implement Risk Responses, and Monitor Risks are recorded in the risk register as those processes are conducted throughout the project. The risk register may contain limited or extensive risk information depending on project variables such as size and complexity.188.8.131.52 PMBOK
How to Create a Risk Register
Because risks change throughout the course of a project, a risk register is a dynamic document. Project and team leaders must continually evaluate total risk to adapt their register to the circumstances of each stage of a project.
At minimum, your risk register should have the following elements:
- a way to quickly identify each risk, such as an ID number
- a description of each risk
- a breakdown structure allowing you to sort risks into categories
- a space to list each risk’s probability of occurring using numerical or qualitative rankings
- a priority score, which is equal to the qualitative impact of the risk times its probability
- a list of mitigation steps, usually copied from a separate document
- a list of risk owners, who execute and oversee mitigation steps for a single risk
A risk register should have plenty of space available for team members and risk owners to be as clear in their descriptions as possible. This is so each colleague has all the details necessary to apply a risk to their own tasks. Let’s say an electrical project has a risk contingent on the team’s access to power. Rather than describing the risk as “power out,” explain the likely cause of a future power outage and how it will impact the pertinent stage of the project: “If we lose power from the coming thunderstorm, we won’t be able to test our machine.”
After describing the risk, explain its impact on the project. “We would have to delay the machine’s launch because regulations require us to conduct two weeks of final testing.” Finally, explain mitigation steps, such as designing the device using batteries or preparing a generator.
Before we move on, here are some additional tips for making and using a risk register.
- Use the “Seven Whys.” After you state a surface-level risk, ask yourself “why would the risk happen?” Once you have a reason, ask yourself “why” again and again until you know the reason for the risk happening at its most fundamental level.
- Consider residual risk, or the risks that remain after all mitigation steps are complete. With a proper risk register and action plan, this risk will be minimal.
- When calculating priority score, use a standardized scale to record qualitative risk impact, such as from 1-10. Probability will always be a whole number from 1 to 100.
- Despite that risk register templates are an excellent tool for analysis, analysis is not their primary purpose. Recording further information about each risk on a separate action plan can help you stay organized and foster team collaboration.
What is the purpose of a risk register?
The basic purpose of a risk register is for team leaders and members to record and rank any dilemma that may arise during a project’s execution. A commonly-cited proverb about risk registers is that they are “always a draft and never final.” They will be used during brainstorming, project construction, and dynamically as new risks appear in the team’s environment.
Whether you use a risk register template or create your own register impact matrix, your team or organization will experience positive effects. What exactly these effects will be depend on your project’s risks and their urgency, but your team will always be more productive with a risk register than without one.
Risk registers stop scope creep
Scope creep is a common consequence of not documenting risks properly, and occurs when a project’s scope extends beyond its assigned goals. While some scope creep may be inevitable in a heuristic scenario, it can create unnecessary or unforeseen work delaying your project’s completion. This could exhaust your team members or make them miss important action steps and deadlines.
Risk registers help track compliance
A less appreciated but very valuable secondary purpose of a risk register is its ability to track compliance. Failing to follow the applicable rules and regulations is a significant risk for many tangible projects. The consequences and risk impacts could be significant and involve monetary fines, revenue loss, unnecessary audits, delays to completing project phases, or even a complete termination of the project.
Risk registers create better communication
How well your team communicates and collaborates can make or break the success of your project. By creating action plans and mitigatory steps to address risks, a project manager forces their team to establish and maintain lines of communication. This helps to lower risk in itself; team members will always have a clear understanding of what their colleagues are doing, why, and how they can help.
Because of the importance of communication in risk management, PMBOK recommends that risk registers should be closely tied to communication and collaboration plans depending on your project environment.
Risk registers fortify corporate security and data privacy
For any project environment, but especially in the world of IT, privacy, security, and consumer confidence are paramount. Using sensitive data, such as trade secrets, credit or debit card details, banking information, or formally classified documents, will open your team to serious legal risks that must be addressed. A risk register provides a succinct way to enumerate each place that data may be vulnerable and develop action plans to protect it
Risk Register Templates
When you choose a risk register template in Google, you’ll have the backing of one of the most recognized, compatible, and file formats available. Google docs align with Words intelligent tables are closely integrated with Excel, allowing you to take advantage of automated risk priority score calculation while maintaining printability.
Free Risk Register Templates in Google Docs
Using real-time collaboration in Google Docs or Sheets is perhaps the easiest way for team members to work together in calculating risks. If you pair the template with your action plan, you’ll be able to keep your project strategy as up to date as possible. However, a risk register using the Google Workspace is going to be more simplistic and less automated than something in Excel.
Free Risk Register Templates in Google Sheets
Excel risk register templates are perfect for an optimally organized document or a project where there are expected to be a larger number of individual risks. Google Sheets powerful calculation feature simplifies priority score and probability calculations for rapid entry of risk information. The only con of using an Google sheet is that printability will not always be consistent.
Free Risk Register Templates in Word
Free Risk Register Template Excel
Free Risk Register Template Download
Free Online Tools to Create a Risk Register Template
What should be included in a risk register?
A risk register’s structure will change as a project continues. However, they will always have risk descriptions, risk probability, priority rankings, and fundamental mitigation steps.
What are the 5 risk categories?
The five most basic types of risks are financial risk, reputational risk, compliance risk, operational risk, and strategic risk. You can use these types to form a basic breakdown structure in your risk register.
What is Project Risk Register?
A risk register is a document or spreadsheet detailing each risk a project’s team assumes, together with steps to prevent that risk’s consequences from occurring.
When would you use a risk register?
Normally, you would use a risk register during both the brainstorming and execution phases of a project to determine which risks are most important to mitigate.
What is the benefit of using a risk register?
The benefits of using a risk register will vary depending on your team and project. Generally, you will see less scope creep, better communication, and more efficient productivity.