Risk analysis helps increase the chances of the successful completion of a project. But what types of risks can threaten a project? What tools to employ to identify them in time?

Risk analysis – table of contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Types of risk in projects
  3. Technical risks
  4. Resource risk
  5. Business environment risks
  6. Risk analysis tools
  7. Ishikawa diagram
  8. Risk matrix
  9. Summary


Risk analysis is a key component of project management because it allows:

  • identification,
  • assessment and
  • responding to potential risks, the overlooking of which could fail the entire project.

According to the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) 2021 report, nearly half of the projects fail to achieve their goals, and more than half are behind schedule or over budget.

Types of risks in projects

The three most common risks affecting most company projects are:

  • Technical risk – refers to problems related to software, hardware or processes that may prevent the implementation of the project
  • Resource risk – includes problems related to the availability of resources, such as employees, budget or time
  • Business environment risk – concerns problems such as changes in regulations or competition.

Let’s take a closer look at each of them to see how to identify, analyze and respond to each type of risk.

Technical risks

To effectively identify and analyze technical risks, you have to conduct a detailed analysis of the technical specifications of the project by answering these questions:

  • What tasks will require the use of innovative technology?
  • Does the organization have a team to develop, implement and operate the technology side of the project? If not,
  • Which solution provider to choose and how to formulate a contract with contractors?

You should also conduct a scenario-based risk analysis to spot potential problems and their consequences. To minimize technical risks, pay special attention to quality control in the project, and provide for regular testing and maintenance. A contingency plan may also be considered. The Project Manager should also keep abreast of technological innovations and consult with experts in the field in which the project is being implemented.

Resource risks

Minimizing resource risks requires an analysis of the availability of specialists and skilled workers, the realistic availability of budget, and the time for the uninterrupted execution of tasks.

When analyzing this type of risk, the Project Manager should ask the following questions:

  1. Does the organization have enough specialists in key areas of the project, such as programming, design or financing, for example?
  2. Are there adequate procedures and tools for resource management, such as resource planning or reporting?
  3. Does the project budget include sufficient funds to recruit or outsource resources as needed?

Risks related to the business environment

Business risks are mainly related to the emergence of the dynamic development of competition. They can also refer to new regulations affecting the budget or the timing of the project. Good examples are the need for certification of solutions or official procedures preceding the introduction of the result to the market or the necessity for the continuation of the project.

Sample questions that can help the Project Manager analyze business risks are as follows:

  1. Are we aware of potential regulatory changes in the industry in which our project operates?
  2. Have we analyzed potential threats from competitors, such as new products or services?
  3. Do we have a contingency plan in case of adverse changes in the business environment, such as a decline in demand for our product or service?
risk analysis

Risk analysis tools

For initial risk analysis, a widely applied SWOT will work well. However, when conducting a thorough diagnosis of technological, resource and business risks, it is better to opt for dedicated specialized tools. The following are famous for their effectiveness:

  • Ishikawa diagram also called a fish diagram because of its distinctive shape, and
  • Risk matrix.

Ishikawa diagram

The Ishikawa diagram is a tool to identify and analyze the causes of problems and potential risks. It was developed by Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa, a Japanese engineer and quality consultant. Ishikawa was a well-known lecturer and expert in quality management and the creator of many other quality-related tools and methods, such as the Pareto diagram and the histogram diagram. Ishikawa worked primarily in industry, but his tools and methods also found application in other fields, including project management.

The Ishikawa diagram presents a problem in the form of a cause-and-effect graph, from which you can extract the key causes of the problem. Among other things, it can provide an assessment aimed at discovering technical risks. This is because it can identify potential deficiencies or problems related to technology and determine their causes.

Risk matrix

The risk matrix first appeared in the 1950s in the aerospace industry, where it was applied to assess flight safety risks. The tool is popular not only in project management but also in business, science or safety analysis.

The risk matrix enables you to determine the level of risk for each hazard by assigning it a weight based on its probability of occurrence and effects. It is a simple table in which the rows represent the various risks and the columns represent the probability of occurrence and impact.

The risk matrix diagram consists of squares that represent individual risks. Each hazard is assigned to one of four squares that correspond to the level of risk:

  • low,
  • medium,
  • high or
  • very high.

The squares provide information about the probability of occurrence and the consequences of the risk. By employing the risk matrix, the Project Manager can identify what risks are associated with the project and consider what actions to take to minimize them.


Risk analysis identifies, assesses and responds to potential risks that could affect the success of a project. However, the volatility of today’s business environment makes it increasingly difficult to analyze and accurately draw conclusions. New types of risks are emerging related to, for example, cybersecurity, inflation, or the availability of raw materials. Therefore, it is worth remembering that risk analysis is an ongoing, repeated and updated process taking place throughout the project.

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Risk analysis in projects and tools to facilitate it | #38 Getting started with project management caroline becker avatar 1background

Author: Caroline Becker

As a Project Manager, Caroline is an expert in finding new methods to design the best workflows and optimize processes. Her organizational skills and ability to work under time pressure make her the best person to turn complicated projects into reality.

Getting started with project management:

  1. What is a project?
  2. What is project management?
  3. How to manage projects?
  4. Project management methods
  5. Types of projects
  6. 4 examples of projects
  7. Prioritization of projects
  8. Areas of project activity
  9. Definition of success in project management
  10. Why use project management software?
  11. How to choose the best project management software?
  12. Overview of project management software
  13. Project life cycle
  14. What is the project vision for?
  15. Project goal. What is it and how to define it well?
  16. Project initiation phase - what to pay attention to?
  17. The domain of planning in project management
  18. What is a project schedule and what is it for?
  19. How to use milestones in a project?
  20. Project execution
  21. How to prepare a successful project contingency plan?
  22. Importance of project closure
  23. Project failure. 5 reasons why projects fail
  24. 4Ps of management: project, product, program and portfolio
  25. Most important tasks and responsibilities of the Project Manager
  26. Most useful project manager skills
  27. How to become a project manager?
  28. 5 books every project manager should read
  29. How to set up a project team?
  30. Work breakdown structure - how to delegate work in a project?
  31. How to lead a team during hybrid work?
  32. Challenges project managers face when working with a team
  33. Types of project meetings
  34. Project monitoring. What parameters to watch?
  35. How to write a compelling
  36. How to define the scope of a project and avoid scope creep?
  37. Feasibility study – can we implement this project?
  38. Risk analysis in projects and tools to facilitate it
  39. How to create a project charter?
  40. What is a stakeholder register?
  41. Gantt chart in project management planning
  42. How to create a project budget?
  43. Time management in project
  44. How to create a project risk register?
  45. Project risk management strategies
  46. Project marketing
  47. Sources and areas of change in the project
  48. Project management change models
  49. What's after Agile? Methods in project management