Are you looking for a way to identify and manage risks in your business? If so, then the risk assessment matrix may be the perfect tool for you.


A risk assessment matrix is an effective method of assessing and managing potential risks to a business. It enables you to identify risks before they occur, allowing you to plan and take action to reduce the impact of any negative event.

The risk assessment matrix consists of three segments: 

  • The threat, 
  • The probability of the threat happening, and 
  • The effect that it would have if it were to happen.  

With this tool, businesses can systematically analyze their environment and create strategies to minimize any foreseeable risks. In this article, we will explain how a risk assessment matrix works and provide step-by-step instructions on how to create one. 

We will also look at examples of high-risk scenarios that can be identified through a risk assessment matrix.

What Is a Risk Assessment Matrix?


A risk assessment matrix is a tool used to analyze and assess the risks associated with a given activity or project. 

It is composed of two axes, one for likelihood and one for potential severity, which is used to measure each risk and assign it a rank or score. Using the matrix, you can gain insight into the probability of a risk occurring and its potential severity should it occur. This helps clarify which risks your company or organization should prioritize in its efforts to prevent losses. 

Additionally, the rankings you assign to each risk can be used to create a strategy that examines how each risk can be mitigated.

The risk assessment matrix is an invaluable tool in helping you make informed decisions when it comes to identifying and managing potential risks. 


How Does the Risk Assessment Matrix Work?


The matrix typically defines low, moderate, and high probabilities for each risk as well as low, moderate, and high impacts. By assigning numerical values to each of these categories, companies can quickly prioritize areas requiring immediate attention before they become major problems.

For example, if a low-probability event has a high impact on operations or customer satisfaction, it should be given higher priority than a high-probability event with only a moderate impact. 

By using the risk assessment matrix in tandem with other tools such as cost/benefit analysis or decision trees, organizations can better weigh the risks and rewards associated with various courses of action before making informed decisions.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Risk Assessment Matrix?

A risk assessment matrix, also known as a Risk Priority Number (RPN) matrix, is a tool used to identify, categorize, and prioritize risks. 

It helps project managers make more informed decisions on how to allocate resources to minimize the impact of the risks they have identified. The primary benefit of using this tool is that it provides a structured way to assess and quantify the risk posed by each identified risk.


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What are the Four Components of an RPN Matrix?


The 4 major components of an RPN Matric include:


1. Severity 


This measures the potential impact of an identified risk on the overall project objectives.


2. Occurrence Frequency 


This measures how often the potential impact may occur if the risk was not addressed or mitigated.


3. Detection Frequency 


This measures how often the development team can detect and proactively address the potential impacts of an identified risk.


4. Detection Difficulty  


This measures how difficult it is for the development team to detect and address the potential impacts of an identified risk. The points assigned for each of these four components are weighted differently to generate a total score for each specific identified risk. 

These scores are then used by project managers to prioritize which risks should be addressed first and which ones can safely be ignored. 

By using an RPN matrix, project managers are better equipped to make decisions on how best to allocate resources to mitigate risks while maintaining their focus on meeting deadlines and staying within budget.

How to Make a Risk Assessment Matrix


Making a risk assessment matrix can help organizations make better, more informed decisions about their projects. The steps to creating a risk assessment matrix are:


a. Identify potential risks 


Start by brainstorming a list of potential risks associated with your project.


b. Analyze the risks


Determine the likelihood and severity of each risk based on a predetermined scale, such as "high," "medium," or "low."


c. Assign Risk Categories 


Assign categories to each risk depending on its severity and likelihood (e.g. High Risk, Medium Risk, Low Risk).


d. Rate risks 


Assign numerical values to each risk category for easier comparison between different risks (e.g., High Risk = 3; Medium Risk = 2; Low Risk = 1).


e. Create matrix 


Use the data from your analysis to create your risk assessment matrix in an easy-to-understand format (e.g., table or chart).


f. Prioritize Actions 


Review your risk assessment results to prioritize appropriate actions for managing different types of risks (e.g., preventive measures or contingencies).


Challenges of Making and Implementing a Risk Assessment Matrix

Creating and implementing a risk assessment matrix can be a complex process, especially if you are not familiar with the risk assessment process. This can lead to several challenges, including:


1. Issues Identifying Risks 


Risk identification can be tricky, and failing to identify all potential risks can lead to overlooking important details that could drastically alter your approach.


2. Resource Allocation  


Risk assessment requires addressing both potential and current risks. This can require substantial resources for planning, gathering data, and analyzing results.


3. Determining Thresholds 


When assessing risks, there is often a need to determine what level of risk is acceptable or unacceptable based on an organization’s priorities and goals. Without clearly defined thresholds, it is difficult to assess the severity of risks accurately.


4. Communication And Collaboration 


Effective communication between different departments is essential when creating a risk assessment matrix as they must be informed of any changes or updates to the matrix for it to remain effective over time.


Tips for Using a Risk Assessment Matrix Effectively

Here are some practical tips for leveraging this tool to its fullest potential:


i. Identify Risk


The first step is to identify any potential risks that could affect the project or operational goal. These can range from external factors, such as changes in the market, to internal factors, such as employees leaving the organization.


ii. Assign Probability and Impact Scores


Once the risks have been identified, assign a probability score and an impact score to each risk. Probability scores can range from low (1) to high (5), while impact scores can range from low (1) to catastrophic (10).


iii. Prioritize Risks


Use the risk assessment matrix to prioritize risks by plotting them on the matrix with their corresponding probability and impact scores.  Risks with higher scores should be tracked more closely, while those with lower scores should be monitored periodically.


iv. Monitor and Mitigate Risk Over Time


Finally, monitor the identified risks over time and implement strategies to mitigate them if they become more likely or their impact becomes higher. This will help ensure that the project or operational goal stays on track without any major disruptions.


How to Specify the Likelihood of a Risk Happening

Risk assessment matrices are data tables used to identify the probability of a risk occurring and the possible consequences if it does. It consists of two columns – one for the likelihood of the risk happening and one for the consequence of the risk. 

The higher the likelihood and consequence, the greater priority it should be given to reduce or manage it. To determine the likelihood of a risk occurring, quantitative measures can be used such as a percentage change or numerical rating. Qualitative ratings can also be used, such as low, medium, high, and extreme. 

To assess the potential consequences, qualitative ratings such as minor, moderate, serious, and catastrophic are used. The combination of qualitative and quantitative ratings can give you an indication of what level of priority should be given to each risk. 

These ratings are then recorded in the risk assessment matrix so that they can be referenced in future discussions and planning sessions around potential risks.

How You Can Take Care of Your Risk Assessment Matrix

Caring for your risk assessment matrix is essential to ensure its accuracy and effectiveness. You can take care of your assessment matrix in the following ways:


a. Have Regular Reviews


Regular reviews should be conducted to ensure that the risk assessment matrix remains up-to-date and relevant. This can help identify any changes in the risks associated with a particular project or process, and allow for adjustments to be made accordingly.


b. Update Criteria


As your organization grows and changes, so too should the criteria used in your risk assessment matrix. Ensure that the criteria used reflect both current industry best practices and your organization's unique requirements.


c. Monitor Impacts and Priorities

Any time a new project or process is introduced, it is important to review all potential risks associated with it and determine the potential impact on your business. 

Additionally, if priorities change - such as minimizing costs over minimizing risks - this should be reflected in any updates made to the risk assessment matrix.

By following these simple steps, you can help ensure your risk assessment matrix provides accurate information that allows you to make informed decisions about potential risks.


Final Thoughts

A risk assessment matrix provides an organization with a systematic means to identify and prioritize potential risks associated with a particular project. 

By providing both the likelihood and potential severity of any given risk, the risk assessment matrix can help an organization determine which risks should be addressed first, and the extent to which resources should be allocated to mitigating them. 

Risk assessment matrices can also be used in the larger context of risk management, providing organizations with an efficient way to identify, prioritize, and address potential hazards in the long term. 

Ultimately, using a risk assessment matrix can help organizations to make more informed decisions, and create safer environments for their employees and customers. 

Ready to reduce the likelihood of risks? A risk assessment matrix is a great place to start! 

Youverify offers AI-powered and patent-pending risk assessment matrix solutions that help you monitor customer risks at every point in time to make informed decisions. Request a demo today to get started.