All the Risk Assessment Matrix Templates You Need

Risks are an inevitable part of business. However, the success of your organization depends on your ability to manage and respond to risks properly. A risk assessment matrix can help: this tool is used to evaluate and prioritize risks based on the severity of their impact and their likelihood to occur. Our collection of free risk matrix examples will help your organization plan for potential risks, and respond appropriately when they occur. 

What Is a Risk Assessment Matrix?

A risk assessment matrix is a chart that plots the severity of an event occurring on one axis, and the probability of it occurring on the other. You can also format the matrix as a table, where the risk likelihood and impact are columns, and the risks are listed in rows. By visualizing existing and potential risks in this way, you can assess their impact, and also identify which ones are highest-priority. From there, you can create a plan for responding to the risks that need the most attention. 

A risk matrix chart is a simple snapshot of the information found in risk assessment forms, and is often part of the risk management process. These forms are more complex, and involve identifying risks, gathering background data, calculating their likelihood and severity, and outlining risk prevention and management strategies. 

How to Use a Risk Assessment Matrix Template

Also known as a “risk management matrix,” “risk rating matrix,” or “risk analysis matrix,” a risk assessment matrix (by any name) template focuses on two aspects:

  • Severity: The impact of a risk and the negative consequences that would result.
  • Likelihood: The probability of the risk occurring. 

To place a risk in the risk assessment matrix, assign a rating to its severity and likelihood. Then plot it in the appropriate position in your chart, or denote the rating in your table. The typical classifications used are:

Severity: 

  • Insignificant: Risks that bring no real negative consequences, or pose no significant threat to the organization or project.
  • Minor: Risks that have a small potential for negative consequences, but will not significantly impact overall success.
  • Moderate: Risks that could potentially bring negative consequences, posing a moderate threat to the project or organization.
  • Critical: Risks with substantial negative consequences that will seriously impact the success of the organization or project.
  • Catastrophic: Risks with extreme negative consequences that could cause the entire project to fail or severely impact daily operations of the organization. These are the highest-priority risks to address.

Likelihood:

  • Unlikely: Extremely rare risks, with almost no probability of occurring.
  • Seldom: Risks that are relatively uncommon, but have a small chance of manifesting. 
  • Occasional: Risks that are more typical, with about a 50/50 chance of taking place.
  • Likely: Risks that are highly likely to occur.
  • Definite: Risks that are almost certain to manifest. Address these risks first. 

Classifying and Prioritizing Risk
After you’ve placed each risk in the matrix, you can give it an overall “risk ranking.” Risks that have severe negative consequences and are highly likely to occur receive the highest rank; risks with both low impact and low likelihood receive the lowest rank. Risk rankings combine impact and likelihood ratings to help you identify which risks pose the greatest overall threats (and therefore are the top priority to address). 

Some organizations use a numeric scale to assign more specific risk rankings. However, most rankings fall into a few broad categories, which are often color-coded:

  • Low: The consequences of the risk are minor, and it is unlikely to occur. These types of risks are generally ignored, and often color-coded green.
  • Medium: Somewhat likely to occur, these risks come with slightly more serious consequences. If possible, take steps to prevent medium risks from occurring, but remember that they are not high-priority and should not significantly affect organization or project success. These risks are often color-coded yellow.
  • High: These are serious risks that both have significant consequences, and are likely to occur. Prioritize and respond to these risks in the near term. They are often color-coded orange.
  • Extreme: Catastrophic risks that have severe consequences and are highly likely to occur. Extreme risks are the highest priority. You should respond to them immediately, as they can threaten the success of the organization or project. They are often color-coded red.

Once you’ve ranked your risks, you can make a risk response plan to prevent or address those that are “high” or “extreme.” You may not need to respond to risks ranked “low” or “medium” before work begins.  

Many organizations get an even clearer picture of risk by dividing the matrices into zones:

  • Generally Acceptable (GA): In the area of the chart ranked “low,” risks have little impact and/or are unlikely to occur. Risks in this region don’t pose an immediate threat to the project or organization, and some can even be ignored. 
  • As Low As Reasonably Possible (ALARP): This is a zone of acceptable risk, encompassing the “low” and “medium” ranking areas. Risks falling within this region of the matrix are tolerable or not significantly damaging; work can proceed without addressing these risks being immediately. 
  • Generally Unacceptable (GU): This is the area of the chart where risk is “high” or “extreme.” Risks in this region are quite damaging, highly likely to occur, and would threaten the project or organization. They are highest-priority, and you must address them immediately. 

Validation and Risk Response
To ensure you’ve chosen the right risk matrix chart and completed it correctly, validate it with a real-world scenario. After selecting your template, fill it in with examples of risks your organization encounters. After you’ve used the matrix to quantify the severity and likelihood of risks, it’s up to your team to come up with a risk response plan for those ranked “GU.” 

Depending on your industry or organization size, you may have additional resources for risk assessment and response. For example, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific matrices workers can use when responding to natural disasters: The Hazard Exposure and Risk Assessment Matrix helps workers and employers assess risks and operate more effectively in areas impacted by hurricanes.

Of course, a risk rating matrix is simply a tool to help guide decision-making. The risk management team should always carefully analyze both the matrices and the risks themselves before deciding how to prevent, mitigate, or respond to a current or potential risk. Risk matrices are commonly used in project management to examine how risks might affect project scope, schedule, and cost. But they’re also used in industries from construction to IT. Our free risk assessment matrix examples contain a variety of types for different industries, so you can find one that best fits your needs. 

Risk Assessment Matrix Template

Risk Assessment Matrix Template

This all-purpose risk assessment matrix template captures the essential information your organization needs to gauge risks. It allows you to list each risk, rate its severity and likelihood, and plot all risks on a chart. You can also color-code the risks to visualize risk rankings and designate the GA, ALARP, and GU zones. This gives your organization an at-a-glance view of which risks to prioritize.

Download Risk Assessment Matrix Template Below

Excel | Word | PDF | Smartsheet

Risk Management Matrix Template

Risk Management Matrix Template

Risk management is the process by which organizations discover, analyze, and address risk to meet goals, keep projects on track, and stick to budgets and timelines. It involves five stages: planning, identification, analysis, response, and monitoring/control. Creating a risk matrix is often one of the first steps in the risk management process, and frequently occurs in the analysis phase (after the risk assessment forms have been created).

A risk management matrix helps organizations identify risks and determine when they require mitigation. This template allows you to rate risk impact and likelihood both before and after mitigation, and note the actions that will be taken to manage the impact of risks. 

Download Risk Management Matrix Template Below

Excel | Word | PDF | Smartsheet

Risk Control Matrix

Risk Control Matrix Template

This type of risk matrix is helpful for organizations or projects that regularly encounter a high degree of risk. It reflects risks and their impact, as well as the automated and manual controls available to help limit the resulting losses. A risk control matrix can later be used to create a risk response plan.

You can customize this risk matrix template for a variety of organizations. For example, in a business context, you might list a risk such as duplicate invoice processing, and then add a control of manually checking all invoice numbers before processing them. In business or IT, a risk might be failed data backups, and the control would be to implement a secondary backup mechanism. You can also specify an “owner” for each control — that is, the employee responsible for implementing it.

Download Risk Control Matrix Template Below

Excel | Word | PDF | Smartsheet

IT Risk Assessment Matrix Template

IT Risk Assessment Matrix Template

IT involves a variety of unique risks and in today’s data-driven environment, the consequences are often severe. Threats to data, systems, and networks originate from a variety of sources, ranging from natural disasters to hardware failures. However, in IT, many risks are human-related, such as:

  • External threats, such as hackers or terrorists
  • Insider threats, such as ex-employees who still have login credentials
  • Trusted insiders, such as current employees who gain improper access 

This risk analysis matrix allows you to plan responses to the most catastrophic risks, contain moderate risks, and monitor less severe ones. Use it to identify the type of risk, its likelihood, the impact on both the organization and end users, the triggering event, and the mitigation action taken. When planning responses, factor in data and system requirements, the time it will take to recover data/system functioning, and the minimum staff and equipment needed to conduct business in the meantime.

Download Risk Response Matrix Template Below

Excel | Word | PDF

Business Risk Assessment Matrix Template

Business Risk Assessment Matrix Template

This risk matrix example shows you how to anticipate risks your company may experience, so you can prepare to address them before they impact your bottom line. 

Use this business risk assessment matrix to list: 

  • Potential risks
  • The assets, departments, or business entities that will be affected
  • Risk likelihood
  • Available prevention or mitigation actions
  • The person or department responsible for those actions
  • The impact of risks on the affected entities

Depending on your business, the impact rating may relate to financial loss, operational difficulties, a drop in customers, or some other measure.

Download Risk Response Matrix Template Below

Excel | Word | PDF

Risk Response Matrix Template

Risk Response Matrix Template

In addition to analyzing risks themselves, the risk response matrix allows you to outline a plan for responding to them. With this risk matrix template for Excel, you can list risks, rate their likelihood and impact, and note the response to each (e.g., “reduce” or “eliminate”). You can also describe the contingency plan for responding to the risk, the event that will trigger the response, and the party that will handle the response. 

This risk matrix is especially useful for high-risk industries, organizations, or projects. It offers an at-a-glance view of not only the impact of risks, but also the triggers to look for and the proper plan for addressing risks that occur.

Download Risk Response Matrix Template Below

Excel | Word | PDF

Construction Risk Assessment Matrix Template

Construction Risk Assessment Matrix Template

There are many different types of risks common to construction projects. These include:

  • On-the-job risks (e.g., worker injury/accident)
  • Financial risks (e.g., supply cost increases, project budget or schedule overruns, or stakeholders running out of funds)
  • Project risks (e.g., ineffective project management, inaccurate time or budget estimates, or miscommunications with stakeholders about scope/budget)
  • Natural risks (e.g., inclement weather, natural disasters)
  • Competitive risks (e.g., pressure to match the timeline/budget of competing construction firms, a firm taking on too much work)

Firms taking on more work than they can realistically handle is one of the most widespread threats to construction projects. By using a construction risk assessment matrix, you can anticipate this and other common risks, and gauge the impact they will have on your project. You can also note whether the contractor, owner, or designer is responsible for addressing them. With this risk assessment matrix example, you can stay within schedule and budget, and ultimately protect your profit margins. 

Download Risk Response Matrix Template Below

Excel | Word | PDF

Project Risk Matrix Template

Project Risk Matrix Template

Risk assessment is an important step in the project management life cycle. The occurrence of even one serious risk can threaten the entire life of a project — throwing it off schedule, overworking team members, causing cost overruns, and upsetting stakeholders. 

Using a risk assessment matrix can help you conduct a qualitative risk analysis of risk probability, and gauge how severe the impact of each risk would be on project scope, schedule, budget, and completion. This risk matrix template allows you to rate risks both before and after a response, along with events that could trigger the risk, the person or entity in charge of responding, and the response plan.

Download Risk Response Matrix Template Below

Excel | Word | PDF

The Importance of Risk Assessments in Healthcare Organizations

There are many potential threats affecting healthcare organizations, such as clinical testing errors, hospital facilities issues, security breaches of protected health information (PHI), and more. Healthcare organizations are under strict regulations when it comes to risk and compliance, meaning establishing a risk assessment and determining where those risks exist are extremely important for the business, both legally and functionally.

Creating a plan to handle risk can help to identify the most severe threats, assess their likelihood, and determine how to mitigate them. In addition, risk assessments can identify the location of all PHI and establish a targeted risk response to safeguard confidential information.

Healthcare risk assessments must be comprehensive, accessible across authorized members of the organization, and sufficient in the way it identifies and addresses all potential threats to processes and information. To ensure that all healthcare data, information, and procedures are effectively audited for possible risks, you need a tool that enables you to quickly identify, mitigate, and prevent risks from coming to fruition, while also offering real-time visibility into all potential threats.

Smartsheet is a work execution platform that empowers healthcare companies to view and update risks across the organization with real-time dashboards, so you can make the best decisions at the right time. Highlight identified risks, update likelihood and severity, and oversee how they are being addressed to keep your team on the same page, all while ensuring utmost security and protection of PHI. Set sharing settings within dashboards to ensure that only authorized users have access to confidential information, so your organization remains compliant with HIPAA regulations.

Interested in learning more about how Smartsheet can help you accurately and securely document healthcare processes and maximize your efforts? Discover Smartsheet for Healthcare.

Make Better Decisions, Faster with Smartsheet Dashboards

Now that you understand the importance of having a risk assessment matrix in place, it's essential to find the right tool to track and manage risk throughout your projects and processes. 

One such tool is Smartsheet, an enterprise work management platform that fundamentally changes the way teams, leaders, and businesses get work done. Over 70,000 brands and millions of information workers trust Smartsheet as the best way to plan, track, automate, and report on work.

The ability to identify and mitigate risk early requires having the right information available at the right time. With Smartsheet dashboards, you’ll have real-time visibility into work progress to make better decisions and keep your teams on the same page every step of the way.

The configurable, widget-driven dashboards enable users to highlight the information that’s most relevant to their business - without the need for technical support. Know the status of your business at a glance, gain insights, and accelerate your team’s innovation all in one platform.
 


Discover how Smartsheet dashboards will help your team make better-informed decisions, fast.

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