After you recognize your project’s risk factors, the next step in your project risk assessment is to identify the specific risks that may result from each of your risk factors. With this information in hand, you can determine the particular effects each risk may have on your project and decide how you want to manage that risk.

Describe how each risk factor may cause you to miss your product, schedule, or resource targets. Suppose, for example, that you plan to use a new technology in your project. Using a new technology is a risk factor. Possible product, schedule, and resource risks that may arise from this risk factor include the following:

  • Product risk: The technology may not produce the desired results.

  • Schedule risk: Tasks using the new technology may take longer than you anticipate.

  • Resource risk: Existing facilities and equipment may not be adequate to support the use of the new technology.

To identify specific potential risks for each risk factor, do the following:

  • Review past records of problems encountered in similar situations. If a risk factor actually resulted in an unexpected occurrence in the past, you definitely want to be prepared for it this time.

  • Brainstorm with experts and other people who have related experiences. The more sources of expert opinion you consult, the less chance you have of overlooking something important.

  • Be specific. The more specifically you describe a risk, the better you can assess its potential effect. Here’s an example of a nonspecific risk compared to a specific one:

    • Nonspecific: Activities may be delayed.

    • Specific: Delivery may take three weeks rather than two.

Try to eliminate potential risk factors as soon as possible. For example, suppose a key audience hasn’t approved your project’s objectives. Instead of just noting the risk that you may not correctly address this audience’s needs, try to get the audience’s approval!