Qualitative Risk Analysis for Beginner Level Project Managers


To deal with risks successfully, each project manager should develop and implement a risk management strategy, plan, and tools at the start of each project.

 Mostly, People are bad at assessing risk. They allow biases to influence their decisions or emotions to stymie decision-making processes. This is why project managers must understand how to analyze risk quickly, efficiently, and strategically for qualitative risk assessment.

Risk management is an essential component of all endeavors. Project managers must avoid accidents while projecting outcomes to ensure that their teams execute projects without incident. Qualitative risk analysis allows project managers to rely on data to analyze and identify potential risks to ongoing projects in a clear and accessible manner.

What is Qualitative Risk Analysis?

If you are unfamiliar with project management, qualitative risk analysis is a risk analysis approach that prioritizes project hazards and provides a grade based on the chance of a risk becoming a genuine problem and the possible impact on your project.

A qualitative analysis, for example, may have identified 10 dangers, but not all of them would be weighted as a top concern. Only four risks may be considered top priorities if they have a large impact and are likely to occur, while two additional risks constitute a moderate danger and the remaining three pose a low threat. These five remaining risks would be prioritized as a medium to low.

Difference between Qualitative and Quantitative Risk Assessment?

Qualitative risk analysis describes risks in subjective, relative terms. For qualitative analysis, knowing that something is exceedingly risky or more dangerous than the next component on your list is sufficient.

A quantitative risk analysis describes the same threats in tangible figures. More rigorous processes may be necessary, such as proof of concept testing or statistical modeling.

Qualitative risk analysis for a home building project, for example, might reveal that a probable timber scarcity is quite likely to cause the project to be delayed and over budget.

Qualitative Risk Analysis Advantages

A quantitative approach’s primary benefit is determining the likelihood of attaining a certain project goal. Calculate the project’s risk exposure and the extent of any cost and schedule contingencies that may be required. Extensive quantitative modeling for big enterprises can be a substantial logistical and financial challenge. A qualitative analysis of your risk environment may provide you with the information you need to prioritize projects quickly and efficiently. Several factors are at work.

It helps to recognize

  • Risks that you may face at each step of the development of your Economic project setbacks
  • Accidental events and their consequences
  • Uncertainties and assumptions cause harm to the system’s vital functionality.
  • Methods of control
  • Measures that must be implemented to reduce risk levels
  • As a result, it may minimize their harmful effects and so enhance the outcome.
  • Estimates of the likelihood of achieving goals.
  • A contingency must be expressed to achieve the desired level of comfort.

Because the project team does not use any specialized tools or risk management software, no training is required. The frequency of risk occurrence has little bearing on the qualitative risk analysis. As a result, the study team can save time by not forecasting each risk’s frequency and precise timing.

Qualitative risk analysis categorizes hazards based on their likelihood and effect. This makes determining which risks a business should focus on simple.

Qualitative risk analysis categorizes risks based on their likelihood and effect. This makes determining which risks a business should focus on simple.

Also, see:

Inherent Vs Residual Risk: Differences and Examples Explained

How to Perform Qualitative Risk Assessment?

Qualitative risk assessment is a crucial task for project managers. It should be done early in the project planning phase and then re-evaluated as the project progresses and conditions change.

Updating risk criteria during the project can allow you to buy at the right time to avoid price rises.

Qualitative risk analysis consists of the five phases listed below:

1. Identifying the Risk


The first step is to identify the threat. Project managers should think about anything that might affect the project’s completion. Begin by identifying the less serious and evident hazards, which will lead you to the more significant and complicated ones.

  • Consider technological risks: What technology is necessary for your project, and what if it fails? Consider all of the technical breakdowns that might impact your project, from erroneous data to quality concerns to software issues.
  • Include external threats: External factors influencing project results include procurement management issues, a weak statement of work, and severe weather. Include as many external factors as feasible.
  • Consider the organizational risks: Internal threats include budgetary constraints, capacity constraints, and interdepartmental conflict.
  • Recognize the project management risks: Consider project quality management risks, including late clearances and losing a key project team member.

2. Estimation of Probability


Once you have gathered a complete list of potential hazards, you must assess their likelihood. You are only analyzing the possibility of the risk occurring at this point of the study, not the kind or scope of the losses that may occur.

Some recommendations for assessing risk probability are as follows:

  • Consider the following four-point scale: A four-point scale ranging from very unlikely to highly likely is essential because it forces you to depart from the neutral middle ground.
  • Assign the following values to variables: Probability can be stated as a single number, such as a 1–4 scale, or as a percentage. You may, for example, assign a score of 20% to highly unlikely, 40% to unlikely, and 60% to likely.
  • Rank each threat: Once you have decided on a numerical scale, assign a probability value to each danger on your list. It may take some deliberation to match all of your risks on the scale to everyone’s liking.
  • Obtain a diversity of perspectives: For the greatest precision, ask as many stakeholders as feasible to assess probability and average their responses.

3. Determine the Probable Consequence

The following step in your risk assessment is to determine each risk’s potential business impact. During this stage, you completely dismiss probability and treat every variable as a certainty. What would happen to your project if this happened?

As with probability, you are dealing with the best estimations you can make based on the given facts. Again, including your whole project team and additional stakeholders will yield the best results.

Consider the best approaches for measuring impact as follows:

  • Prepare for the worst: When assessing impact, be pessimistic. What is the worst that this danger may cause to your project? The risk is rated based on the most serious outcome.
  • Consider the following parameters: Cost, schedule, deliverables, and scope: Calculate the likely outcomes of each of these project categories. How may a risk raise your charges or extend your timeline? What impact may it have on project deliverables? To acquire a final impact score, add all the impacts.
  • Make use of available data: Even though qualitative evaluations are subjective, you should use all relevant data to ensure that your estimates are as accurate as possible.
  • Choose a scale: You must assign a risk only after properly examining all possible damage.

4. Make a Risk Assessment Matrix

New Custom Risk Matrix at nTask
Custom Risk Matrix in nTask

It is now time to organize the data into a qualitative risk analysis matrix. Using your constructed scales, place probability on one axis and impact intensity on the other.

To acquire exposure ratings for each cell in your matrix, multiply the likelihood and impact rankings over each row and column. The exposure score sums up the threat posed by hazards in each cell.

The following tips will help you create a project risk matrix:

  • Create your chart based on your preferences: It makes no difference whether your axis is a horizontal or vertical row in your chart or your scale is ascending or descending.
  • Prepare for your risks: After you have finished your matrix, plot all of your risks depending on the likelihood and impact rankings you assigned in your study.

5. Create a risk response strategy

all new nTask Risk management

Your team may prioritize which exposures require additional action or investigation based on your risk matrix and develop an actionable risk response strategy.

Like the other phases of qualitative risk analysis, risk response planning is subjective. Your risk tolerance and the nature of the identified threats will decide which exposures need to be mitigated.

It requires more action or investigation, and which may be ignored you must select a risk mitigation approach for those who require action. A cost-benefit analysis can help you decide which methods are worthwhile to pursue.

For regulatory purposes, risk registers are occasionally necessary paperwork. Tasks described in your response plan can be allocated to members of your team and monitored using your existing project management system

Use the following practices to develop an effective risk response strategy:

  • Create exposure levels: Sort your risks into categories based on their importance. Because the levels are chosen at random, you may customize them to your satisfaction. 
  • Exposure-dependent color: Colors can symbolize your risk response strategy’s priorities and next steps. 
  • Select risk-mitigation strategies: You need to speak with a fresh set of specialists to determine the best solutions for your concerns. Financial advisers, accounting experts, and technology professionals can all help you protect your project.
  • Continuously monitor risks: As your project proceeds, you may need to meet on a regular basis to examine how risks have evolved and if your risk response and project management strategies need to change as a result. This procedure may be made easier to track and control using software like nTask.

Qualitative Risk Analysis’s Limitations

Risk management in projects is a multi-step procedure. This is due to the limits of qualitative risk analysis.

Qualitative risk analysis produces no measures and is based only on the researcher’s viewpoint. A qualitative risk analysis should involve multiple people to reduce subjectivity. Previous team experience influences the accuracy and detail of the analysis. If the risk team has never worked on a project like this before, they may overlook or identify risks wrongly.

The qualitative risk analysis assesses each risk on a project but does not assess the overall risk exposure of the project. The cost of risk management activities and risk treatment will also not be assessed in the study.

When numerous risks fall into the same category, such as high likelihood and medium impact, there is no way to distinguish their severity or decide which risk should be addressed first.


Risk management is about cultivating a culture in which choices are made based on data analysis to maximize opportunity while minimizing risk impact.

Qualitative risk management is a critical tool in the risk manager’s armory. It enables project teams to achieve their objectives by quickly prioritizing risks. Using these approaches increases the likelihood that your project will be completed on time and under budget.

It is also extremely adaptable, allowing it to be used with any project or decision, whether big or small. Whether you are considering opening a new site or comparing the benefits of various organizational structure types, planning ahead of time for risk analysis may bring clarity and assurance to the planned route.

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