You’re starting something new. Maybe you’re tackling an unfamiliar project, or perhaps you’re instituting a change to an existing process. Regardless of the specifics, this thought is bound to cross your mind: what could go wrong? Use this template with your team to find out. You’ll identify potential risks, assess their likelihood, and handle them accordingly. Stop sweating the worst-case scenarios, and start planning for them.
How to use the risk assessment matrix template
Step 1. Provide some background
This template isn’t about evaluating all potential risks for your business – it’s focused on one specific project or initiative. In the Background section at the top of the template, provide some context by explaining the project you’re assessing risks for. Make sure you link to any relevant research, websites, Confluence pages, and more.
Step 2. Familiarize yourself with risk ratings
Not all risks are created equal, and this template uses four different ratings for your potential risks: low, medium, high, and extreme. You can familiarize yourself with them in the Risk rating section of the template. In addition to forcing you to carefully think about the severity of a risk, this color-coded system is helpful once you get to the matrix portion of the template, as it makes it easy to instantly recognize which risks just aren’t worth it.
Step 3. Plot your risks
Your mind is probably swimming with some of the potential drawbacks of whatever project you’re planning for. In the Risks table, you’ll plot your risks based on two criteria: their likelihood and severity. Maybe it’s highly improbable that your budget for this project will dry up, but the effects of that would be undesirable. Plot that risk in that space of the matrix. Once you’re done doing that for all of your risks, you’ll have a handy visual you can use to promote productive discussions and planning sessions.
Step 4. Jot down your action items
You don’t just want to identify your risks – you want to mitigate them. In this final Action items section of the template, jot down the steps you need to take to close the loop on open questions or concerns. Basically, anything you need to do to reduce the probability or impact of a risk should get listed here. Remember to @ mention team members so they get notified about the tasks they need to take care of.
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