In this article, you’ll find the real-life project risk management plan example. It comes from my practical experience working on software development projects. 

Below the example, you’ll find all the required information and resources to create your Risk Management Plan quickly and for free.

Risk Management Plan Definition

Risk Management Plan is a document that describes the general approach to managing risks on the given project, including methodology, techniques, funding, timing, and responsibilities. It includes reference to all other risk management documents and tools (e.g., Risk Register, WBS)

Table of Contents:

  1. Risk Management Plan Example
  2. Risk Management Plan Template
  3. How to Create a Risk Management Plan and Make it Work in Your Team
  4. Components of a Risk Management Plan and Practical Considerations
  5. Importance of a Written Risk Management Plan
  6. Inputs for Risk Management Plan

Software Project Risk Management Plan Example

Introduction

This document describes how the project team will manage the project risks, roles and responsibilities, and tools they use.

For the purpose of this document, the term “Project” means one Release cycle from initiation to the deployment to the market in the overall Product Life Cycle.  

Risk is an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on a project’s objectives.

The main flow of Project Risk Management includes the following processes:

  1. Risk Identification
  2. Qualitative Risk Analysis
  3. (Optional) Quantitative Risk Analysis
  4. Planning Risk Responses
  5. Implementing Risk Responses
  6. Monitoring Risks

This project team follows the principle of one tool . As much as practical, we will keep all project documentation in Confluence {Google Docs, MS Office 365, Asana, ClickUp, etc.}. 

All team members and authorized stakeholders should have access to documentation and the ability to collaborate on it.

The main access point is here: {URL to Risk Management Documentation}

The project manager is responsible for educating the project team, clients, and key stakeholders in proper risk management skills.

PM should initiate and facilitate all related activities.

Risk Identification

During the whole project lifetime , all stakeholders and project team will continuously identify risks. All the time, we should ask a simple question, “What can go wrong here? Do you see any risks?”

The Project Team should log identified risks into the Risk Register. It’s acceptable to perform risk analysis in batches at a later date. 

Access Risk Register here: {Link to Risk Register. Get a Risk Register Template in my Resource Guide}

The Project Team will use the following techniques:

  1. Interview
  2. Meeting
  3. Brainstorming
  4. Requirements Analysis
  5. Project Documentation Review
  6. Delphi Technique
  7. Expert Interview

Besides continuous identification, the team will perform a dedicated Risk Identification Session for the following events/artifacts:

  1. During all grooming sessions.
  2. During a review of the Release Plan.
  3. Analysis of Work Breakdown Structure .
  4. When a Change Request is approved.
  5. During an inspection of Architectural Design.
  6. During the Sprint Planning Meeting.

The Project Manager is also responsible for identifying risks outside of the Project Team.

The Project Manager will review and analyze the company’s Risk Categories regularly. 

Risk Breakdowns Structure is located here: {Link to Risk Breakdown Structure}

Budget, Risk Tolerance, and Thresholds

{Project Manager should discuss Risk Appetites, Tolerance, and Thresholds with clients. It’s a critical input for your Risk Management Plan. It will dictate your overall methodology, analysis, and responses for the project. You need to put this information below.}

  • Risk Appetites is a general and subjective description of an acceptable risk level.
  • Risk Tolerance is a measurable and specific level of risk.
  • Risk Threshold is a particular point at which risks become unacceptable.

{This section is an example. You need to provide actual information from your clients!!!}

The budget of Risk Management activities is a part of the overall project budget stated in the Project Charter.

Risk Management Budget should not exceed 15% of the overall project budget.

This project is constrained by budget. It means it is constrained by schedule because the bulk of the project costs is the wages of the project team.

Therefore, our overall approach is to generate alternative solutions for the project scope that will meet project objectives.

Qualitative Risk Analysis

The goal of this process is to make a list of risks that require a proactive response. We should also identify urgent risks that need a response right now.

The Project Team should assess all risks in the Risk Register and identify Probability and Impact.

  • Impact is a level of effect that risk will have on the project.
  • Probability is a level of likelihood of occurrence of the risk.

It’s not an in-depth analysis. The Project Team should spend an adequate amount of time to assess the risks.

{You need to adjust the tables below based on your environment and risk appetites. Learn more about Qualitative Risk Analysis in the video below.}

Impact Grades

Impact Interpretation Map
Simple Impact Interpretation Map can be created in spreadsheets

Probability Grades

Impact Interpretation Map
Simple Impact Interpretation Map can be created in spreadsheets

Impact-Probability Matrix

impact probability matrix
In fact, it is just a visualisation of priorities.

Legend: 

  • Red – risks that warrant a response.
  • Yellow – risks that require further analysis and investigation.
  • Green – risks that can be ignored.

Quantitative Risk Analysis

It’s not cost-efficient to perform Qualitative Risk Analysis for this project. 

In exceptional cases, the Project Team may calculate the monetary value of critical risks and develop a decision tree. 

Planning Risk Responses

All Risk Responses should be logged in JIRA as Impediments or Tasks. 

These JIRA entries should be linked to the risks in the Risk Register. 

Risk Responses are part of the project scope, budget, and schedule.

To overcome systematic risks, the project team may introduce additional processes and workflows. They should be appropriately documented and approved by the Department Manager.

Project Team may plan Risk Responses as additional tasks, reserves of time, reserves of budget, or adjustments to processes. 

Other types of Risk Responses should be developed in collaboration with Clients and Department Manager.

Each Risk Response Plan should have a dedicated Owner. It should be a specific person who will monitor the risk and collaborate on risk response implementation.

The owner of the risk has total responsibility for the risk. In case of issues, the risk owner should escalate it to the Project Manager.

Learn more about possible Risk Response strategies in the video below:

Implementing Risk Responses

The Risk Owner is responsible for:

  1. Monitor the assigned risks.
  2. Reporting on the progress of response implementation.
  3. Reporting any changes to the risks.
  4. Identifying and logging any secondary or residual risks.

The Project Manager is responsible for the overall control of all Risk Management activities.

The Project Team will discuss immediate risks daily during Scrum Meetings. 

The Project Manager will report on the immediate risks on every Status Report Meetings.

Monitoring Risks

During the whole lifetime of the project, the Project Team will continuously monitor the existing risks. It will also have regular activities to identify new risks.

  1. The Project Team will review the Risk Register regularly.
  2. The Project Team will have regular brainstorming sessions.
  3. Risk Owner will control risk’s Impact and Probability.
  4. Risk Owners will assess the efficiency of Risk Responses.
  5. Risk Owners will keep Risk Register up-to-date.
  6. The Project Manager will continuously coach the team and clients on the best practices of Risk Management.
  7. Subject Matter Experts may conduct risk audits on demand.

Risk Management Plan Template

Get My Risk Management Plan Template

You’ll finally discover what goes into a Risk Management Plan with this template. You can quickly adjust it to your needs and use the plan on your project for FREE. (And you get access to all my other Risk Management resources.)

Get the Template

How to Create a Risk Management Plan and Make it Work in Your Team

Below is the step-by-step action plan you can use to kickstart risk management on your project.

Step 1: Draft a Risk Management Plan

First things first. Write out your Risk Management Plan.

It’s not that difficult, but you need to plan before you act!

Here’s a tip:

An essential part of this process is to define probability and impact levels clearly.

Step 2: Create a Risk Register Document

Create a template that is aligned with what you described in the Risk Management Plan.

If you don’t know where to start, look at my article about the Risk Register . You can find a template there.

Step 3: Explain the Methodology to the Project Team

It can be tricky with an inexperienced team.

Why?

Risk management tends to separate actual estimates of efforts and costs required to finish a task from all fears, uncertainty, and buffers.

People don’t like to show uncertainty, inefficiency, or incompetence. Likewise, they don’t want to expose others. 

It’s a conflict, and no one likes conflicts.

That’s why it’s so important to send the right message.

Step 4: How to Get the Buy-In From the Team

Explain what the benefits for them are!

What’s the real story here?

You want to reduced level of stress for all.

Risk management helps to control the work with less tension. 

But how does it work?

You have a commitment from a team member. He or she explained the related risks. 

After that, together, you agreed to try to mitigate the most critical ones.

Was it inefficient? The response plan didn’t help. Work this out together.

But this way the manager is aware of the problem early on. There are management reserves for unforeseen risks. And it’s a valid reason to use it.

Everyone will be aware of the new risk and the actions taken to resolve the issue. In most cases, everyone will be supportive.

Was it effective? Cool, you did a good job. Everyone’s happy.

Step 5: No More Buffers, Only Specific Risks

Transparency is the key:

You need to ensure that all buffers transform into risk responses, contingency, or management reserves.

Only this way you can control the project work.

You need to know the exact amount of “buffer” for each task. Moreover, it is critical to monitor whether the reserve was actually used or not. Was it even efficient?

Step 6: Describe Responsibilities

You need to set two aspects of responsibility:

  1. General responsibility for following the risk management plan.
  2. Responsibility for a specific risk .

You can’t do risk management efficiently on your own. In theory, the whole organization should think about risks on a project.

That leads to the next important point.

Step 7: Clear Expectations

You need to set clear expectations for each team role.

In most cases, you will need to build a role hierarchy. All team members should actively participate in risk identification.

While team leads and senior experts should also:

  1. Develop response plans
  2. Monitor risk triggers
  3. Control response plans efficiency
  4. Escalated related problems
  5. Identify Risks Continuously

Now it’s time to develop a habit of talking and thinking about risks.

Once you feel that you understand the scope of work , you know what the project team needs to do; you are quite happy with estimates, ask these questions:

  1. What can go wrong?
  2. What will delay us?
  3. What if… and name all dependent activities.
  4. Can this part of the project impact the project management plan?

Don’t stop here. Think of different scenarios and “what if” cases. If something bothers you or the team, put it into the Risk Register.

As an additional source of ideas, check this list of risk categories .

Step 8: Log all Risks into Risk Register

During planning, the Risk Register should be close at hand.

I prefer to have a bookmarked Google spreadsheet. Always accessible, easy to update rapidly.

Step 9: Analyze and Shortlist Risks at Key Events

At some point, you will have a good draft of a project plan. Also, there should be an extensive list of risks alongside.

By this moment you’ll have some experience in managing risks with your team. Don’t be afraid to adjust documents and the approach if needed.

After that, take the list and assess each risk in terms of impact and probability. Focus on the most severe ones and put them aside for further analysis.

Step 10: Make Risk Response Plans a Part of the Project

Once you shortlisted the Risk Register, select the risk you want to work with.

Collaborate with the project team and stakeholders to identify possible steps, extra activities, or reserves to mitigate or avoid the risk.

Make these activities and reserves a part of your project.

By the way, don’t forget to keep an eye on opportunities. It is wise to leverage any chance to improve the project progress.

Step 11: Talk About Risks Daily

Now new, possible, and know risks should be a part of your work with the team and stakeholders.

You need to be aware of the risks that may happen soon. Look for triggers, control the implementation of risk responses, and lookout for new risks.

Risks are not static. They change their properties.

New risks may appear. Known risks may go away.

What’s important:

Risk management should be an integral part of any change request. Changes always impose risks.

Get My Risk Management Plan Template

You’ll finally discover what goes into a Risk Management Plan with this template. You can quickly adjust it to your needs and use the plan on your project for FREE. (And you get access to all my other Risk Management resources.)

Get the Template

Components of the Risk Management Plan

So, what should you include in the Risk Management Plan?

Below are the main components and some considerations you need to make.

Risk Management Methodology

You need a short description of your risk management approach. It should summarise the activities, events, responsibilities, and integration with the project management plan.

Keep the description short and straightforward.

Consider the Maturity of Your Organization

Risk management is process-oriented. Best practices and experience of the organization is a crucial factor as well.

Moreover, lessons learned and knowledge base of risk is vital input to the Risk Management Process.

If your company doesn’t manage risks, be ready to encounter all the hidden problems of your industry and the environment you work in.

That’s another vote for starting small.

There’s one trick.

Risk Management Approaches

You can save a lot of time and effort on Risk Management if related activities become an integral part of other processes.

Here’s how it works:

Option 1. You dedicate periods of time to identify risks at specific points in your workflow.

Therefore, you’ll end up with several sessions to talk explicitly about risks and their attributes.

Option 2. You perform Risk Identification on the go.

  • Created Project Charter – try to identify risks.
  • Working on Work Breakdown Structure – think about assumptions, constraints, and – log risks as you see them.
  • Thinking about options – always consider risks and opportunities.

Option #1 is a good starting point. It works with teams that have a habit of buffering tasks rather than talking about risks.

Nevertheless, option #2 should be your goal. Each team member and each stakeholder should always consider risks.

Why does it matter?

When your team is more efficient in risk management activities, you’ll cover more risks.

As your capacity is limited, you need to be very selective about your risk management’s primary inputs.

Key Events For Risk Identification

Even if you make most of the risk identification on the go, you’ll have additional events:

  1. At some points, you may still want to devote more time to Risk Identification. For example, when you created a WBS, project schedule, or budget.
  2. Also, you’ll have to stop, analyze, and shortlist the known risks.
  3. After that, you’ll need to identify Risk Response Plans  for the selected risks.
  4. Don’t forget to plan some time to review the Risk Register, check the efficiency of Risk Response Plans and Risk Management in general.
  5. As an option, you may want to consider developing an Emergency Plan for serious problems.

Consider When Risk Management Activities Should Happen?

Knowing the primary sources of risks, you need to set up checkpoints to identify and analyze risk.

Here is a pro tip:

Risk Management is iterative. Some activities will happen several times until you get a realistic project plan.

So, it is vital to elaborate on risk from a high to a more detailed level.

You need to spend an adequate amount of time on to the level of detail and the project’s current uncertainty level.

It means you should not spend too much time while you have initial drafts of the project plan. Most of the critical risks will be address early on during planning, and many others will disappear in the process.

Here is what’s important:

You need to ensure that you don’t miss new risks. You need to expect new threats that appear as the result of your risk management activities.

If you don’t know what to do at these checkpoints, take your time to review the Risk Management Framework .

Roles and Responsibilities

At the very least, answer the following questions:

  1. Who is responsible for risk identification?
  2. Who is accountable and has the authority to log risks into the Risk Register?
  3. How can you find a responsible person for a specific risk?
  4. How and when should anyone report new risks?
  5. How and when should a responsible person report on the risks that occurred?
  6. Any specific rules that authorize the usage of dedicated risk reserves.

Consider the Experience of the Project Team

Project Team experience in Risk Management is the most crucial factor for success.

/pm

Risk Management is not a one-person show.

It is not a task for a project manager. I doubt that even your substantial personal experience in project management can compensate for the team’s input.

Don’t try even to do it alone if your team is unaware of risk management approaches. Educating them will be a much more efficient investment of your time.

That is not all!

Budget

What are the allocated budget of money and time for risk management activities and reserves?

Why do you need this?

It is a baseline. It will help you prove your efficiency.

You’ll be able to compare the resources you spent versus the costs of potential losses.

Moreover, don’t forget that you can spend the budget to leverage opportunities.

Risk Management is not for Free

Preventing risks is not free of charge. It doesn’t happen somewhere outside of a project. 

That’s why all risk management activities should be a part of project baselines.

How much money and time do your sponsors want to spend?

If the client and performing organization are not mature in risk management, they will be affected by absence blindness.

So, expect to have difficulties proving the efficiency of your actions.

What’s next?

Definition of Probability and Impact

Here you need to state the precise definitions of probability and impact levels.

The goal is to ensure that everyone on the project understands those values in the same way.

You can learn everything you need about probability and impact in a comprehensive article:

How to Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis for the First Time

Reporting and Tracking

Here you need to define reporting formats for the risks. You may want to have separate reports for:

  • New Risks
  • Risks that happened
  • Risks that did not happen
  • Risk Response Report

You also need a uniform way to integrate risk responses into the project.

They should relate to specific parts of the scope, milestones, or objectives. Risk should not fly somewhere in the middle.

If someone identified risk, the worst thing you can do is to forget to log it. Such risks backfire really hard.

How to Define Appropriate Efforts

Risk management activities require the time and efforts of the whole team. Sometimes you need to involve external stakeholders.

The more robust your methodology is, the more time it requires.

However, there is a limit where it is still efficient to spend resources to fight the known risks.

Get My Risk Management Plan Template

You’ll finally discover what goes into a Risk Management Plan with this template. You can quickly adjust it to your needs and use the plan on your project for FREE. (And you get access to all my other Risk Management resources.)

Get the Template

Importance of Risk Management Plan

Why is it essential to have a written Risk Management Plan?

At some point, you will need to prove the efficiency of your risk management activities.

How will you do that?

You can just state:

Here is my plan. I used the allocated budget of N person-days/dollars. Here is the list of risks that we were able to mitigate, avoid, or workaround. That helped us to deliver the project/part of the project on the agreed milestones.

Simple, isn’t it?

Keep in mind that you spend resources to prevent problems before they appear.

Therefore, if you are doing it well for an outside person, it may seem like everything just works. It’s magic or luck when no severe problems happen.

In the end, why should we allocate budget for risks?

Risk management saves money, time, and nerves. It helps to improve chances for project success and avoid problems.

But there is a catch:

Risk management works well in a structured project management approach. It enhances processes that already work and provide predictable results.

Why do YOU need it? For the same reasons!

However, please consider whether you are at focusing on the right knowledge area. Entirely possible that you need to address other areas processes first. 

The real source of problems on your project may be inefficient project management in general.

If you are sure, let’s move on.

What Are The Inputs to the Risk Management Plan

Project Risk Management Overview

If you are not super proficient with Risk Management in general, check this video first.

It will give you an overview of the Risk Management Framework and the place of Risk Categories in it.

In theory, each process and all artifacts of the project involve risks.

In practice, you have only a few real sources of severe risks.

Where do you need to focus?

Environment and Organisational process

Your own company, people, and processes are a source of risks.

At the very least, they can delay you. At large, they might try to impede your work.

Project Management Plan. Or it’s absence 

Without one, you can never say whether you are progressing towards success or failure simply because you cannot measure against the desired plan.

Scope Baseline

How accurately is your scope defined?

Do you even have clear requirements?

Usually, it is the primary source of all kinds of risks. If I were to choose one area, it would be scope management.

Estimates of time and costs

Even with a clearly defined scope, you can have serious risks in the estimation process.

The estimation process incorporates errors from other knowledge areas.

Performance metrics

Do you have a plan on how to measure against the estimates you created? Do you have thresholds clearly defined? Do you have a reporting system? Do you measure the right metrics?

Stakeholder Register

Do you have a plan to define and control their expectations?

There is no straightforward and universal process here.

No tricks work the same with different people. Moreover, your personal judgment is involved. There’s a lot of space for errors.

Communications plan

You need to integrate all the project information across processes and stakeholders.

For example, a WBS can be used to ensure a common understanding of the deliverables.

Do you have a plan on how to avoid misunderstanding and wrong expectations?

What’s the most challenging part?

Naming all possible sources of the risks is difficult. You can try to systemize, categorize, and group them.

However, it takes a lot of organizational experience. Knowledge of one PM is not enough.

I have a large list of risk categories  that can help you pinpoint some significant problem areas.

Get My Risk Management Plan Template

You’ll finally discover what goes into a Risk Management Plan with this template. You can quickly adjust it to your needs and use the plan on your project for FREE. (And you get access to all my other Risk Management resources.)

Get the Template

Conclusion

Start small, take baby steps, and always think about your risk management activities’ business value.

I also recommend to read:

Test Yourself in Risk Management

Do you think you know enough about Project Risk Management?

Take this short quiz and identify gaps in your knowledge.

In the end, I provide correct answers and explanations.

A document you use to capture all known risks is called:

On a Friday evening John (your best engineer in the team) comes to you and says he quits. You have two weeks to find a substitution. What would reduce the chances of such an event? Why?

A process that involves prioritizing risks for further action or analysis by assessing the impact and the probability of occurrence is called

When do you perform Risk Identification?

As a part of your project, you need to organize a conference. You learn that in the place that you rented there’s a 70% chance of a tropical storm on the selected dates. How should you handle such risk?

Who should be involved in Risk Management activities?

You acquired an expensive piece of equipment for your project. It is know to be sensitive and fragile in work. Several tasks that require this equipment are on a critical path. What’s the BEST action you can do to improve project’s chances for success?

You are on the call with clients. They say the vendor team they hired to create designs is behind schedule. What should you do?

After you performed Qualitative Risk Analysis you need to create:

After reviewing Risk Register you see two critical risks that you anticipate during the next week. What should you do with this knowledge?

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