How To Communicate Project Risk

This article explains how to communicate Project Risk effectively.

The following areas will be covered:

  • Why we need to communicate Risk
  • Who we need to communicate to
  • What needs to be communicated
  • Some common mistakes when communicating risk

Why communicate project risk?

The primary objective is to communicate risks at the right level to the right people. The aim is to get people to understand what the risk is, how likely it is to happen and the impact if it does. They can then take action themselves to help the Project Manager mitigate the risks or help plan for any changes that need to be made as a consequence of the risks happening.

Who to communicate projects risk to

Project risks need to be communicated to the key stakeholders and sponsor on the project. The relevant risks should also be communicated to the people involved in the project such as project team, and suppliers.

Common mistakes when communicating project risks

These are the some of the most common mistakes when communicating project risks:

Errors with the Risk Statement:

  • Risk as written down is too vague or unclear
  • The Risk Statement contains several risks bundled together
  • The impact of the risk is unclear
  • The risk stated is too technical for the audience, so they don’t understand its importance

Risks communicated at the wrong level or to the wrong people:

  • The likelihood of the risk happening, and the impact on the project if it does are not really clear or are missing completely from the Risk Statement
  • The risk stated has a low overall rating so is therefore irrelevant to the audience
  • Lots of low rated risks in the Risk Log clutter up the log so effort may be spent reviewing low level risks rather than focusing on the higher priority risks
  • Important risks that need to be communicated are missed but less important risks are highlighted instead

Risk Management Admin:

  • The Risk log is not kept up to date
  • Risks in the Risk Log become out of date, change or morph into something else

What should be communicated?

Risks should be written down in a Risk Log. They should be stated clearly so that the target audience understands them. Using a standard format for writing risk statements helps.

Take a look at this guide: How to write good Risk Statements.

Project Risks should also have an overall risk rating score. This helps the Project Manager identify the highest priority risks to be worked on first.

Take a look at this guide: How to rate risks.

Back to Help with starting and running projects