Best Practices and Tools for Conducting Qualitative Risk Analysis - EUCLEA Business School
Qualitative Risk Analysis

Best Practices and Tools for Conducting Qualitative Risk Analysis


Qualitative risk analysis is a process of assessing the likelihood and impact of potential risks on a project. It helps project managers to prioritize the most significant risks and plan appropriate responses. Qualitative risk analysis is usually done after identifying the risks and before performing quantitative risk analysis.

In this blog, we will discuss some of the best practices and tools for conducting qualitative risk analysis effectively.

Best Practices for Qualitative Risk Analysis

Involve the right stakeholders

Qualitative risk analysis requires input from various stakeholders who have different perspectives and expertise on the project. It is important to involve the project team, sponsors, customers, subject matter experts, and other relevant parties in the process. This will ensure that all the risks are identified and assessed accurately and objectively.

Use a common risk rating scale

Qualitative risk analysis involves assigning a rating to each risk based on its likelihood and impact. To ensure consistency and clarity, it is advisable to use a common risk rating scale that is agreed upon by all the stakeholders. A common risk rating scale can be numerical (e.g., 1 to 5) or descriptive (e.g., low, medium, high). The scale should also define the criteria for each rating level and provide examples of risks that fall under each category.

Consider both positive and negative risks

Qualitative risk analysis should not only focus on the negative risks that can harm the project, but also the positive risks that can benefit the project. Positive risks are also known as opportunities, and they can enhance the project performance, scope, schedule, or budget. For example, a positive risk could be finding a cheaper supplier or discovering a faster way to complete a task. Qualitative risk analysis should identify and prioritize both negative and positive risks and plan appropriate responses for them.

Update the risk register regularly

Qualitative risk analysis is not a one-time activity, but an ongoing process throughout the project lifecycle. As the project progresses, new risks may emerge, existing risks may change, or some risks may become irrelevant. Therefore, it is essential to update the risk register regularly with the latest information and ratings. This will help to keep track of the current risk status and adjust the risk response strategies accordingly.

Tools for Qualitative Risk Analysis

Risk matrix

A risk matrix is a graphical tool that displays the likelihood and impact of each risk on a grid. The grid is divided into four quadrants based on the level of risk: low, moderate, high, and extreme. The risks are plotted on the grid according to their ratings. A risk matrix helps to visualize and compare the relative importance of different risks and identify the ones that need immediate attention.

Risk probability and impact assessment

A risk probability and impact assessment is a tool that evaluates each risk based on its probability of occurrence and its potential effect on the project objectives. The probability and impact are usually rated on a scale of 1 to 5 or low to high. The ratings are then multiplied to obtain a risk score, which indicates the severity of the risk. A higher score means a higher priority for risk response planning.

Risk categorization

Risk categorization is a tool that groups similar risks together based on their sources, causes, effects, or other criteria. This helps to identify common patterns and trends among the risks and devise effective response strategies for each category. For example, some common categories of project risks are technical, operational, financial, legal, environmental, etc.

Risk urgency assessment

A risk urgency assessment is a tool that considers the time-sensitivity of each risk and its proximity to the project milestones or deadlines. It helps to determine how quickly a risk needs to be addressed before it becomes critical. Some factors that affect the urgency of risk are its duration, volatility, dependency, or trigger points.

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