Checklist Analysis and Assumptions Analysis for Risk

Posted on September 28, 2009 by


Checklist Analysis and Assumptions Analysis are tools and techniques of the PMBOK®’s Identify Risk process. A Checklist Analysis can provide ideas for risks on a current project. These lists of risks can be from previous, similar projects; the lowest level of the Risk Breakdown Structure; or other sources. Care should be taken to also explore risks that are not on the checklist, because even highly similar projects will have their own, unique risks. For example, Katy will be baking a batch of cookies to enter at the state fair. She finds her list of risks from last year’s cookie competition which includes: missing an ingredient, under-baking, burning, and a stale ingredient. Although this checklist gives her a good beginning, she has some new risks with this project, such as the state fair rules specifically place some restrictions on ingredients and cookie size that will disqualify her entry if she does not follow them.

Although sometimes it is obvious that one is making an assumption, often assumptions are so subtle that they are not even recognized as such. Assumptions Analysis examines and challenges the project’s assumptions. For example, Katy assumes that she’ll be able to drive her car to the state fair and enter her cookies, but her car could break down. She assumes her grocery store will have the ingredients she needs in stock, but they could be sold out of an ingredient she needs. Also, she assumes she will have electricity for her stove, but her power could go out. The point here is to examine which of these assumptions warrant being listed as risks for further analysis and monitoring.