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Archive for October, 2012

What difference between Issues and Risks

October 6th, 2012 1 comment

There is some confusion between issues and risks. While both issues and risks have consequences (impact), the probability (and, to some extent, the time) dimension is different.

A risk is an event or situation that may possibly, but not necessarily occur, in the future. The probability can range from 0% to 100%. An example: possible loss of key staff members. When risks are identified ahead of time, we can determine mitigations and responses to prevent the risk from becoming an issue.

An issue is a situation that either is currently occurring or will occur in the future. It’s usually unexpected or has a low enough impact and/or probability that developing a mitigation or response was a low priority and, therefore, not part of the risk register (see below). The probability is 100%. An issue that has occurred or is currently happening is referred to as a problem. An example: upcoming termination of vendor support for an older release of a software product. When we know that the end-of-support date is approaching, it becomes an issue. When the date is actually upon us, it becomes a problem. When we know that an issue is coming up, we can try to take steps to deal with the issue before it becomes a problem. Too often, however, issues arise unexpectedly and immediately and must be addressed immediately.

Categories: Project Management
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