Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Sign up Log in

Risk Management: How to Conduct a Risk Retrospective

Risk management is an integral part of the business landscape. Reviewing past events, or performing risk retrospectives, is a critical element of effective risk management, generating valuable lessons and guiding organizations around future pitfalls. 

Risk retrospectives systematically examine past risks, both those that were realized and those that weren't. These exercises help businesses understand the reasons behind these risks, which enables better risk identification and management in the future. An in-depth review helps organizations reflect on what worked, what didn't, and why, facilitating the development of robust risk management strategies for the future. Risk retrospectives also involve assessing the efficiency of risk response strategies and the effort spent on the risk process. Such evaluations provide rich insights to improve future risk management, creating a more resilient organization.

The timing of a risk retrospective can vary depending on the nature of the project, business, or industry in which the organization operates. However, here are some general guidelines:

  • Post-Project Completion: A risk retrospective is commonly conducted at the conclusion of a project, which is an opportune time to review and analyze all the identified risks, the effectiveness of the response strategies, and any unexpected issues that arose.
  • After a Major Risk Event: If a significant risk event occurs, it can be helpful to conduct a risk retrospective soon after the event to learn from it while the details are still fresh in everyone's minds. Such an event could be a substantial financial loss, a security breach, or an operational failure.
  • At Regular Intervals During Long-Term Projects: For long-term or ongoing projects, conducting risk retrospectives at regular intervals - perhaps quarterly or semi-annually is beneficial. This allows for real-time adjustments to risk management strategies, which can contribute to the project's success.
  • During Regular Audits: Many organizations regularly audit their project management procedures. Incorporating risk retrospectives into these audits can effectively ensure a systematic review of past risk events.
  • When Strategy or Management Changes: When there are significant changes in strategy, management, or organizational structure, conducting a risk retrospective can be helpful to reassess risk exposure and the effectiveness of current risk management practices.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to conduct a successful risk retrospective meeting: 

  1. Prepare for the Meeting: Formulate and disseminate an agenda among the participants before the meeting. Highlight the main discussion areas, including reviews of specific risk events, evaluation of risk management strategies, and brainstorming on future risk prevention methods. Compile and provide any relevant data or documents necessary for a comprehensive discussion.
  2. Set the Stage: Commence the meeting by establishing the context. Recapitulate the project or timeframe under review and briefly overview the risk events that transpired. Emphasize the purpose of the retrospective, which is not to assign blame for mistakes but to learn from past events to improve future risk management.
  3. Review the Risks: Engage in a detailed discussion of each risk event. Consider the nature of the risk, its impact on the project or business, any early warning signs, and the deployed risk response strategies and their effectiveness. This conversation will help to unravel the events and the organization's response.
  4. Evaluate Risk Management Strategies: Evaluate the risk management strategies employed. Were they effective in mitigating the risk? Were the strategies cost-efficient? Could the risks have been managed differently? This dialogue yields valuable insights into the effectiveness of current risk management practices. This step provides an opportunity to calculate the Return On Investment (ROI) by comparing the benefits of the risk process with its costs. 
  5. Identify Lessons and Actions: This constitutes the core of the retrospective. Reflect on the lessons learned from each risk event and the overall risk management process. Discuss the applicability of these lessons to future projects. Identify specific actions to enhance risk identification, evaluation, response, and monitoring, and record these for future follow-up.
  6. Close the Meeting: Summarize the key points discussed and the actions identified. Ensure everyone comprehends the next steps and their role in implementing the actions. Promote an ongoing dialogue about risk management and emphasize the value of the retrospective process.
  7. Follow-Up: After the meeting, distribute a summary of the discussions, including the lessons learned and the actions identified. Set a timeline for implementing the actions and assign responsibilities accordingly. Finally, schedule the next risk retrospective meeting.

 Following are some general principles to keep in mind:

  • Address Repeated Risks: The repeated occurrence of the same risk points to a failure in learning from past events and necessitates a review of risk management strategies. Keep an eye out for such recurrences.
  • Implement Training and Education Programs: Regularly organized training and education programs can improve risk identification and response among team members. Such programs foster a risk-conscious culture, enhancing the organization's capacity to manage risks effectively.
  • Promote Documentation and Sharing of Lessons: Foster a culture where learnings from past risks are documented and shared. This practice can avoid repeating similar risks and promote understanding at all levels of the organization.

Risk retrospectives enhance an organization's risk management capabilities. Organizations can better anticipate and manage future risks by reviewing past events, understanding the effectiveness of preventive measures, evaluating risk response strategies, and learning from past risks. It's an ongoing process that, if executed effectively, can significantly contribute to an organization's resilience and success.

Risk Register by ProjectBalm

Risk retrospectives are much easier to conduct with an appropriate tool. This is one reason we created Risk Register by ProjectBalm.

Our goal was to automate best practice risk management techniques, and do so via an elegant, usable interface that works with you, and not against you. Risk Register will help you to identify, analyse, treat and monitor risks more easily and effectively than ever before.

If you are experienced at risk management, you will find in Risk Register a tool that works the way you want it to work. If you are new to risk management, our documentation and videos will take you through the whole risk management process, giving lots of useful examples.

Risk Register is fully compatible with risk management standards such as ISO 31000, and can also be used for governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) programs such as Sarbanes-Oxley and PCI. And, of course, Risk Register allows you to easily distinguish between opportunities and threats.

ops and risks.PNG

Over the last few years, we've grown to become the most popular risk management solution in the Jira marketplace and we are now an Atlassian Platinum Partner. Why not try out Risk Register by ProjectBalm for yourself?



Log in or Sign up to comment
AUG Leaders

Atlassian Community Events