The risk register

A risk register is a collection of risks, each described as a chain from an uncertainty to an outcome.

What to read first: Identifying risks

New to this: This series assumes you have no prior knowledge. It does not use technical terms without explaining them first.

A risk register is a collection of risks, each described as a chain from an uncertainty to an outcome.

It is called a register because it aims to ensure that no risks are overlooked after initial identification.

Confidence comes from looking at the register as a full collection of risks.

A typical risk register has each risk as a row in a matrix. The risk description is one or two columns, perhaps four or five if the description is broken into components.

The other columns contain other fields that are useful in the risk management process, such as the relevant controls, likelihood and consequence code, risk treatment options, and so on.

If you have been given a risk register template to use, it probably aligns closely enough with the process suggested in this guide. Fixed consequence and likelihood codes would be a problem.

For administrative purposes, it is often useful to have a short summary of each risk, separate from its full description as a chain. If your formal risk register has room for only a few words describing each risk, you can put the summary in the register, and capture the full description in a linked document that has room for unlimited words.


Parent articles

Identifying risks

Register the identified risks. Find risks by looking backward from the unplanned outcome, to its sources of uncertainty. Then look forward from those sources of uncertainty, to the effects on outcomes. You can also start from the potential for events, or for wrong assumptions, and look both ways. The final ‘risk’ runs from the source of uncertainty, through the event or assumption, to the unplanned outcome. There are other good places to look for risks. Keep the risk register in good order.

New to this: This series assumes you have no prior knowledge. It does not use technical terms without explaining them first.

Index to the topic Risk in work unit business planning