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22 July 2015

3 Factors in Risk Management: Probability, Impact, and Velocity

Risk Score

Qualitative and Quantitative Analyses in Project Risk Management both take into account Probability (P) and Impact (I). A Risk Score is the product of the two.
Qualitative Analyses use subjective estimates of probability and impact as a screening process that categorizes risks for management, monitoring, or ignoring. Risks placed in the management category go on to Quantitative Analysis and Risk Response Planning.

What about Urgency?

A third value should be considered: Velocity (V), which is the inverse of the time-to-impact.
Seldom can we deal with all risks at once. The value of considering Velocity lies in prioritizing further effort so you have enough time to respond to urgent risks. We would not consider Velocity when assigning risks to the three categories because we want to deal with the important things, not the urgent things. (Consider Pareto's 80/20 rule.)
If Probability times Impact describes an area, then to be consistent, we would add Velocity as a third dimension. That is,
Priority Score = Priority x Impact x Velocity

Another View of the Priority Score

Priority times Impact has another label, which is Expected Monetary Value (EMV). EMV is often used by itself for guiding decisions. If we express the Priority Score as
Priority Score = EMV x Velocity
then we give EMV a weight equal to the weight of Velocity.
The reason we would not consider the Velocity by itself goes back to the principle about the cost of rework. The later you deal with a problem, the more it costs because you have to repeat and fix work that came before. The previous effort becomes wasted, costs rise, schedule lags, and you have to use extra resources to get back on schedule.
Similarly, the longer you wait to deal with a risk, the more rework you have to do. Therefore, we need to factor both Velocity and EMV into prioritizing work: Velocity to deal with urgent risks, and EMV to control costs.

A New Step: Priority Analysis (when needed)

I recommend inserting a new step into Risk Management when there are risks with high velocity and you have to prioritize which risks to deal with first:
  1. Qualitative Analysis with Risk Score = estimated Priority x estimated Impact
  2. Priority Analysis with Priority Score = EMV x Velocity = Priority x Impact x Velocity
  3. Quantitative Analysis with Risk Score plus other factors such as Velocity and Cost Effectiveness
I bring up Cost Effectiveness because you want to ensure that you don't spend $150 to prevent a risk whose EMV is only $100.


Hall, Harry, PMP, PMI-RMP. 30 Quick Risk Evaluation Tips. PM South. Accessed 21 July 2015.

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