A risk register is an important risk analysis tool used in enterprise risk management, financial risk management, IT risk management, and project management. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines a risk register as “a record of information about identified risks.” Often used for regulatory compliance, risk registers also help project managers stay abreast of project risks.

A risk register usually takes the form of a risk log. A risk log can be a spreadsheet, a form, or a dashboard that lists:

  • All identified risks associated with a project, enterprise, or business unit;
  • The risk category;
  • The likelihood of each risk becoming a threat, event, or incident, which can also be known as a risk rating (high, medium, low);
  • The potential consequences of each risk event occurring;
  • The costs to mitigate each risk;
  • The specific steps required for appropriate risk mitigation;
  • The name or title of the “risk owner,: or person responsible for managing each specific risk.

What Are Risks and Opportunities?

Risks don’t always have a negative impact, and their outcomes don’t need to be detrimental to your company. Sometimes risk can result in gain, like an expansion or a merger. Opportunity identification is a part of risk management that allows you to balance these possibilities; having a risk register will help you chart your company’s risks in relation to your opportunities.

A successful growth plan for your company will weigh your risks against the opportunities for gain that are presented to you. This risk-to-reward ratio will allow you to examine your risks as more than simply consequences to be avoided. Instead, you can determine whether the opportunity for growth is greater than the potential for harm, and let those factors guide your decision-making.

What Is a Risk Register Used For?

A risk register is used to identify potential risks in a project or an organization, sometimes to fulfill regulatory compliance but mostly to stay on top of potential issues that can derail intended outcomes. Risk managers and project managers alike need to use a risk register. Project management can’t succeed without having at least one of these important lists.

Why? Because creating risk registers in project management requires a thorough understanding of all the potential obstacles to the success of a project. Risk register creation and updating is, therefore, a critical aspect of project management. For every project an enterprise undertakes, there should be an accompanying project risk register.

Once a project is underway, regular monitoring of risks and responses is key. A project risk register can simplify this task by showing at a glance which risks exist, which risks are most worrisome, and how the enterprise should address them.

What Are the Benefits of a Risk and Opportunity Register?

A risk and opportunity register has any number of benefits beyond simply managing risk. For example, if your organization is one that needs to follow government compliance guidelines (as in law or healthcare), a risk register provides documentation that will be crucial in the event of an audit. Your risk register will also contain useful information that will help you develop an action plan for your company if a crisis should occur.

Your risk register can also be instrumental in guiding your company toward new growth. Having a clear record of your potential opportunities and risks will help you decide which risks are worth taking and which risks are best avoided. The documentation in your risk register will also help you keep track of which staff members are assigned to what risk, and give you a tool for training as you hire new employees down the line.

How to Create a Risk Register

Those inexperienced with risk registers in project management may not know how to create a risk register. It’s a big job, especially for big projects — which is why businesses often use a risk register template. Excel spreadsheets are commonly used, as well.

To develop a risk register, risk managers collect and list every bit of information they can find about every identified risk, including its level of urgency, priority for a response should the risk become a threat, and what those responses should be. Risk team members usually work together to create the risk register.

Risks come and go, which is why every risk register for project management should be updated regularly as new risks arise. Project team meetings should include periodic reviews of the risk register (monthly, quarterly, or annually), as well as at the end of every phase in the project.

How GRC Software Can Mitigate Risk

Software can make the risk management process easier than ever before. ZenGRC, a software-as-a-service, can guide you through the tasks of risk identification, risk prioritization, impact assessment, risk response, and risk updating using in-a-glance dashboards instead of spreadsheets and automation instead of tiresome manual labor.

With ZenGRC, you can create a risk management system with a full real-time view of your organization’s risk landscape. The integrated software makes it simple to assign risk and track responses in the event of a crisis.

Schedule a demo today to learn more about how ZenGRC can help you develop a successful risk management program at your company.

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