Even the most carefully planned projects still entail a certain amount of risk. Since project risk is inevitable, a project manager must do everything he or she can to anticipate events that could derail the progress of the project at hand. Risk awareness and mitigation should be integrated into the framework of your project to protect your work as much as possible. Part of the risk management process includes designating risk owners throughout your team.

A project management risk owner is the individual responsible for observing each potential risk area and also executing a risk response should a risk event occur. Risk ownership is a key part of your risk response plan; it assures that all identified risks are accounted for and appropriately monitored. Also, by assigning responsibility for each specific risk, you avoid finger-pointing and other unproductive responses to threats and business interruptions that may occur.

Risk owners should not be confused with risk managers. A risk manager will oversee the management of risks for an entire organization or project, whereas risk owners are those that the risk manager assigns to track and respond to individual risks. A risk owner is an important player wtihin the overall plan that the risk manager has designed.

Throughout the lifecycle of a given project it’s critical to assign risk carefully and strategically, as the success of your project may depend on it.

What Are the Benefits of Being the Risk Owner?

Assigning risk owners for your project has a number of benefits. Some of those benefits won’t be noticed unless the risk event actually comes to pass; namely, having the ability to quickly respond to and recover from threats to your project. Another benefit is peace of mind: dividing risk appropriately among your team can help everyone gain a clearer view of the project as a whole. This kind of preparation will earn the confidence of both employees and stakeholders alike.

Risk ownership itself has benefits as well. If you are the project team members assigned risk for a particular area it can give you an opportunity to look at the project in another way, giving you insight you may not have had otherwise. It can also be a great way of proving your initiative and leadership skills to your coworkers and management.

Who Should Be the Risk Owner in Project Management?

The responsibilities of a risk owner include:

  • Monitoring the assigned risk
  • Assisting in developing risk mitigation plans
  • Executing those plans if necessary
  • Collaborating with other team members on best practices for risk prevention

When selecting risk owners, a project manager should consider each team member’s particular expertise and experience. A good candidate for risk ownership is one with attention to detail and knowledge of the field surrounding the risk in question.

Expertise in a given area is particularly important if you are performing a qualitative risk assessment, which heavily relies on human judgment. Risk management experience is also a plus, but a person who is well-informed and responsible can easily fill the role without it.

The risk owner’s role in overall project risk management is a testament to the importance of delegation. Managers or project team leaders may not have the bandwidth for risk ownership, and it’s important to assign risk to someone who is able to give it the attention it requires. Assigning risk allows leadership to focus on other aspects of the project while ensuring that risk is appropriately managed.

So who should a project manager select as risk owners? This depends entirely on the size and scope of your individual project, as well as the staff you have available for the task. You should also start by performing a risk assessment to determine which risks are the most dangerous and should be prioritized as assignments. Realistically, your team won’t have the bandwidth to assign every risk to a different team member, so prioritizing key risks will be more efficient in the long run.

Some companies will assign risk ownership by department, with the heads of each department focusing on the risks inherent to their particular tasks. If you choose this approach it’s important to assure that departments are working together to keep risks from falling “out of silo” and being overlooked.

ZenGRC Can Help You Mitigate Business Risks

Staying on top of risk is challenging, whether you’re managing a project or an entire corporation. With new risks constantly emerging, you need a system that gives you a clear view of your company’s risk landscape, your risk register, and the mitigation efforts you have in place.

ZenGRC is an integrated software solution that allows you to track risk throughout your entire organization. ZenGRC helps you assign risk with ease, and gives you a centralized system for monitoring those assignments and communicating with risk owners. Schedule a demo today and learn how ZenGRC can help you create a successful risk management plan.