Every successful project manager knows that effective risk management is built on a foundation of planning and preparation—gathering a list of things that could go wrong and planning a strategy for what to do if they do go wrong. The last thing you want when you’re facing “impossible” deadlines and a tight budget is for an unforeseen problem to derail the project. This Excel spreadsheet workbook, put together by TechRepublic columnist Brian Kennemer, is a great tool for tracking possible risks and managing them throughout your projects.

This download includes a worksheet called Risk List, with categories that will prompt you not only for information essential to identifying possible risks but also for data that will help you pinpoint the Probability of a risk occurrence and the Impact of how bad it would be if the risk occurred (with 1 being not very bad and 10 being very bad). These numbers give you an idea of how much time and effort to spend on mitigating the identified risk.

In addition to the Risk List sheet, the download also contains a sheet called Risk Matrix, which gives a graphical view of where your risks fall. It graphs Impact against Probability and color-codes the various combinations (see Figure A).

Figure A

The workbook also includes a sheet called Criteria. It’s locked because it provides the formulas that drive the graph on the Risk Matrix sheet. Be aware that if you edit the Criteria sheet, the Matrix may no longer work.

Both the Matrix and List worksheets are also locked, but only a few of the cells are protected. On the List worksheet, the Exposure cells are protected because they contain a formula. The same goes for the Matrix sheet. The colored matrix itself is protected, but the other cells are not.