Free Risk Assessment Matrix Template

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In a perfect world, every project would launch beautifully and come in for a smooth landing, with no unexpected bumps in the road.

But you know better.

You’ve got budgets to stick to, deadlines to meet and deliverables to, well, deliver. Throw all those ingredients into one big project management pot, and it’s a surefire recipe for risk.

Thankfully, you don’t need a degree in rocket science to turn risk from a four-letter word into a flash in the pan. Simply download TeamGantt’s free risk assessment matrix template, and you can start mitigating risk with a single click!

Ready to rock ‘n roll? Let’s go!

What is a risk assessment matrix?

A risk assessment matrix enables you to calculate project risk in a snap by identifying all the things that could go wrong and weighing its potential damage. That makes it easy to prioritize issues and take action where it’s needed most to keep your project on course.

Let’s take a look at the different scales and ratings that make up a risk assessment matrix.

Scale of severity

Have you ever asked yourself, What’s the worst that could happen? This simple question helps you gauge the severity of a risk you’re about to take. We’ve broken risk severity down into three possible answers:

  • Acceptable: You’ll hardly feel an impact if this risk occurs.
  • Tolerable: This risk will hurt, but there’s no doubt your project will recover.
  • Generally unacceptable: Think of this risk as a sucker punch that sends your project spinning.

Scale of likelihood

Some risks are more likely to happen than others. And of course, you’re going to want to address impending risks first. With TeamGantt’s free risk assessment matrix template, you have three options for assessing the probability of an event.

  • Not likely: You just might catch a glimpse of Bigfoot before this risk makes an appearance.
  • Possible: There’s a decent chance this risk will occur, but you’ve still got a ray of hope.
  • Probable: You can pretty much bet this risk will rear its ugly head.

Risk impact

The risk impact is the overall level of risk based on how likely it is to happen and how bad the consequences would be. This is the bottom-line measure used to prioritize issues and identify red flags.

  • Low: Low-risk events aren’t likely to happen and don’t pose a serious threat to your project. They’re just fine hanging out at the bottom of your to-do list while you tackle bigger issues.
  • Medium: Think of medium-risk events as speed bumps that slow your project down. They don’t get top billing, but a little mitigation will go a long way in helping your project run smoothly.
  • High: You can expect these events to throw your project seriously off course without mitigation. They deserve swift action to keep risk at bay.

Project use cases for risk assessments

So how does a risk matrix apply to real-world situations? Here are just a few ways you can use a risk assessment matrix to improve project management.

  • Set client expectations by planning risks ahead of time. Surprises are great on birthdays and Christmas, but not as project deliverables. Be the hero with the X-ray vision by showing clients you’ve got a plan for ensuring their project comes out on top.
  • Prepare the internal team for project risks. It’s a lot easier to avoid potholes when you know what the road’s like up ahead. With a risk matrix, your team can anticipate setbacks before they happen, minimizing risk’s ability to knock your project completely off course.
  • Prioritize actions for mitigating risk. You’ve only got so much time, money and manpower to get the job done. A risk assessment enables you to identify your biggest project threats so you can focus resources where they’re needed most.

How to use a risk assessment matrix in Excel

Every project manager should keep a risk assessment matrix handy. While a risk matrix isn’t terribly complicated, finding time to build one between all your to-dos is easier said than done.

Lucky for you, we made this free risk assessment matrix template so you can simply download it and go. That’s one more tool for your project management belt with no extra work to juggle!

Here’s how to put it to use for you.

Using the risk assessment matrix template

TeamGantt’s risk assessment matrix template gives you a quick and simple way to visualize and measure risk so you can take proactive steps to minimize its impact on your project.

1. First, click on the Risk Assessment List tab at the bottom of your risk matrix template.

Risk Assessment List tab in the Excel template

2. In the Risk column, list all the potential risks that could affect your project. Feel free to get really specific here. The more detail, the better!

Example of project risks you might add to the Risk column

3. Choose a Severity option from the drop-down menu.

Risk severity drop-down options example

4. Select a Likelihood option from the drop-down menu.

5. Using the Risk Assessment Matrix tab as your guide, determine the overall Risk Impact based on the Severity and Likelihood you’ve assigned that risk.

Example of Severity, Likelihood, and Risk Impact columns completed in a risk assessment

6. Once you’ve assessed all the potential project risks, prioritize the list from highest to lowest risk impact, and formulate a plan for mitigating the biggest risks first.

Determining risk impact

Here’s how to figure out the Risk Impact using the Risk Assessment Matrix on the first tab in the Excel template.

1. First, click on the Risk Assessment List tab at the bottom of your risk matrix template.

Risk Assessment Matrix tab in Excel template

2. Find the Severity of the risk you’re assessing, and follow that column down until it intersects with the Likelihood of that risk. The cell where these two meet determines your Risk Impact. For example, let’s say your risk has an Acceptable severity and Probable likelihood. That means it would fall under the Medium risk category.

Example of the how to use the risk matrix tab in the Excel template for determining impact

Customizing your risk assessment matrix template

You can anticipate and mitigate risk today with this free risk assessment matrix template — and you don’t have to change a thing to get started.

But if you’ve got some ideas of your own you’d like to try out, we won’t get in the way of creative genius. Feel free to customize it ‘til the cows come home!

Adding titles

We’ve given the worksheets in this template some basic names already. But if you like a little more title excitement, go ahead and give it your own project flair!

1. To add or edit the title of your risk assessment matrix, double-click your cursor into cell A-2.

2. E­nter a new title for your risk assessment matrix.

Adding a custom title to your risk assessment template

3. Format the header text using the same formatting tools you’d use to format any other text in the worksheet.

Changing colors

Want to switch up the colors used in this risk assessment matrix? Applying your own brand colors is easy!

1. Click to highlight the cell, row or column you want to change.

2. Go to Format > Cells, and select the Fill tab.

3. Click on the Background Color dropdown, and choose the new color you want to apply to the cell, row or column you’ve highlighted.

Changing colors on your risk assessment matrix template

Adding rows/columns

We’ve laid out the basics for assessing project risk in this template, but there are lots of ways to measure risk. For example, you might want to add more graduated options to the Likelihood and Severity scales, or you may want to track the areas affected to further organize your risk assessment list.

1. To insert a new row, click Insert > Rows. A new row will be added above the one you currently have selected, using the same formulas and formatting of the row above.

Inserting a new row into your risk assessment template

2. To insert a new column, go to Insert > Columns. A new column will be added to the left of the one you currently have selected, using the same formulas and formatting of the column to your left.

Inserting a new column into your risk assessment template

Removing rows/columns

See details you don’t need? Cut your risk assessment matrix down to size without the help of special tools.

1. To delete an existing row, click on the row you want to remove. Go to Edit > Delete, and choose Entire Row.

Deleting a row from the risk assessment Excel template

2. To delete an existing column, click on the column you want to remove. Go to Edit > Delete, and choose Entire Column.

Deleting a column from the risk assessment Excel template

Adding a company logo

This risk assessment matrix template comes ready-made with a TeamGantt logo in the corner. As fond as we are of that snazzy image, you might want to give it your own brand stamp by adding your company’s logo instead.

1. Right-click on the TeamGantt logo/header image in row 1, and select Change Picture.

Changing out the company logo in your Excel risk matrix template

2. Choose the image file you want to add to the worksheet, and click the Insert button.

Printing the risk assessment matrix

Nothing says you’ve got a handle on things quite like a risk assessment matrix pinned to your wall. So why not print it out and put it on display? All that green, red, and yellow is bound to stop traffic as coworkers stop to admire its beauty.

1. First, let’s set the print area. Simply click and drag your cursor to highlight all the cells you want to print out. Then go to File > Print Area > Set Print Area.

Printing your risk assessment matrix

2. If you want to adjust the scale of the risk assessment matrix to fit on a single page, go to File > Page Setup, and select the Page tab.

Adjusting the print scale for your risk matrix to fit on a single page

3. Once you’ve set the print area and adjusted the scale of your risk assessment matrix, you’re ready to send it to the printer. Click File > Print.

Additional resources

  • Project management template library: Use these simple templates in any industry to plan and manage projects, identify and mitigate risk, and communicate effectively at every project step.
  • Gantt chart Excel template: Save time organizing your project plan with our premade Excel gantt chart template! Simply plug in your tasks and dates, and you'll have a presentation-quality Excel gantt chart.

How to use TeamGantt to assess project risk

Ever wish you could assess risk on the fly? Sign up for TeamGantt’s free online gantt chart software, and consider your wish granted.

TeamGantt’s online gantt chart software makes it easy to keep an eye on risk, day or night. And because it’s live and web-based, you don’t have to manage risk alone. The whole team can get in on the fun!

Here’s a preview of some of the TeamGantt features you can use to assess project risk:

Planned timeline vs. actual timeline

Check yourself before you wreck yourself with TeamGantt’s baseline feature. It enables you to monitor project progress in real time so you can identify project delays or overages and adjust your plan for minimal collateral damage.

Team availability and workload

Have you ever taken on a big project only to realize you don’t have the resources to get it done on time? With TeamGantt’s availability tools, it’s easy to see how work’s stacking up across your team so you can set timelines you can stick to. View your team’s workload by tasks assigned or hours estimated—your pick!

Easy collaboration

Communication is the engine that keeps projects running on time and on budget. TeamGantt gives you a all the tools you need to make project collaboration a breeze. Comment on tasks, request project updates, and invite others to the project so everyone knows what’s up and nothing falls through the cracks.

Ready to beat risk to the project punch?

Risk is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to wreck your success. Sign up for your free TeamGantt account today, and discover just how easy it is to stay one step ahead of project risk.