As an IT consultant, I have seen project risks tracked in a spreadsheet or similar risk register stored on the project manager’s laptop. The risk log is distributed via email and often sanitized to only display the immediate risks that need senior management’s attention. This approach works, although there are often version issues as team members look for the latest copy of the risk register. By centralizing all the project risks into an online tool, everyone benefits from one version of the truth.

One company that “gets it” is KeyedIn Solutions. The Minnesota-based Software as a Service (SaaS) solution provider and consulting group helps organizations improve their portfolio management, program management, and project execution capability. I recently got a chance to demo the KeyedIn Projects application. The product has a lot of features that support the entire lifecycle, though this post focuses on the Risk Management module, which is core to the Project Management software tools.

A glance at the Risk Management dashboard (Figure A) provides a snapshot of all the risks and their probability and impact to the project. The dashboard evaluates each risk based on probability, cost impact, time impact, and quality impact. I like this approach to evaluating risk, as many projects use the traffic light status approach for the entire risk. Applying the traffic light to specific risk parameters helps communicate the severity of the risk. Some risks will have a cost impact, others may affect the critical path, and some risks may affect overall quality. By qualifying the different factors, project teams can focus their attention on the important risks.
Figure A

Project risks in the KeyedIn Projects application (Click the image to enlarge it.)

KeyedIn’s risk detail (Figure B) allows team members to assign an impact date and a probability level, define impacts, and identify contingency and mitigation plans. The module enables project managers to proactively manage risks across the project lifecycle.
Figure B

Risk detail (Click the image to enlarge it.)

Every risk management plan should identify a risk treatment including risk avoidance, risk mitigation, risk transfer, or risk acceptance. KeyedIn supports complete risk mitigation planning (Figure C), which enables project teams to identify tasks to reduce the project risk or take the appropriate risk management action.
Figure C

Risk Mitigation Plan Item in KeyedIn Projects (Click the image to enlarge it.)

KeyedIn Projects also supports contingency planning. Despite a project team’s effort to mitigate project risks, some risks will occur on a project. The team needs to have a contingency plan for each risk so appropriate action can be taken.

What about an Excel log?

In some companies, the executive management team isn’t going to log in to a tool to view the project status themselves, so they’ll get the project manager to summarize the status and represent the relevant risks and issues; this often includes an export of the project issues and risks. Fortunately, KeyedIn Projects also provides an Excel extract with a click of the button.

Pursue proactive risk management

By creating an online risk register that allows project teams to collaborate, project risks can be proactively managed. Realistic contingency plans can be documented, and specific mitigation actions can be individually tracked.

Risk management is also team responsibility. Instead of escalating a risk to the project manager, each team member can participate in the risk management process and maintain accountability for specific risk mitigation actions. By collaborating with KeyedIn, risk management is an active part of the project management process throughout the entire lifecycle.

Take KeyedIn Projects for a test drive

KeyedIn provides an in-depth feature tour for each of its project, program, and portfolio management offerings. I encourage you to take a look at the KeyedIn Projects tour and determine how the tool can help your organization. Keyedin also provides a free 15-day trial.

I look forward to working with the tool further and exploring how I can get “KeyedIn” across the program and portfolios modules as well.

Read more about SaaS and the cloud

Check out the ZDNet and TechRepublic special feature Cloud: How to do SaaS right and our downloadable Executive’s Guide to Best Practices in SaaS and the Cloud.