project risks

Typical Project Risks

project risksRisks exist in every area of a project but the likelihood of a particular risk occurring, and the consequences to the success of the project if it does occur, are the main factors to consider in risk management within a project. It is important that the project manager does not expend too much time and energy on the risk management of those risks that are unlikely to occur or those that will have minimal impact if they do.  This is why all risks should be categorised at the outset of a project.


Take a look at these common sources of project risk to help you identify potential risks in your project.


The Scope


  • Scope not clearly defined in the Business Requirements Document
  • Scope not defined in enough detail
  • Different stakeholders fail to agree on scope
  • Changes to requirements requested mid-project
  • Acceptance criteria not documented
  • Requirements not approved by all interested parties
  • Business priorities change during the project



The Technology


  • Team members have no experience of new technology being used
  • Limitations in the software
  • Software performance issues
  • Integration with existing technology has not been tried and tested
  • Data conversion limitations




The Equipment


This could be computer hardware or manufacturing equipment required to make a new product.


  • Equipment breaks down
  • Performance/Production speed is too slow
  • Equipment capacity is too low
  • Test environments not available


The People


This area can relate to internal staff and external staff or sub-contractors. It can also relate to the customer.


  • Team members assigned to the project do not have the right skills
  • Key team members leave before the project is finished
  • Team members are not motivated
  • Team members do not make adequate progress with tasks
  • Team members are not available for meetings
  • Team members do not follow schedule
  • Staff involved in specifying the requirements are replaced
  • Customer does not approve interim stages
  • Customer reviews not carried out
  • Adequate customer resources not assigned to project
  • Resistance in some parts of the customer organisation to the project
  • Unrealistically high customer expectations
  • Lack of customer responsibility for the project



I haven’t mentioned the project manager in this list of potential “people” risks but it could also be the case that the project manager is inexperienced or has no experience of a particular type of project. This will result in the project plan itself being a cause of risk, with potentially poor estimates, a poor grasp of dependencies and failure to manage the people, time and budget well.


Hopefully, the project manager will have had formal training in project management techniques and have attended some project management courses so that the schedule itself is not one of the potential sources of risk.