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Risk Burn-Down

A program should develop a risk burn-down plan for all high and moderate risks and for selected low risks. For most risks, the burn-down plan consists of time-phased activities with specific success criteria. This detail allows the program to track progress to plan to reduce the risk to an acceptable level or to closure. Developing a burn-down plan generally consists of six steps: 

  1. Identify and organize the risk mitigation activities in sequence manner, using realistic and logical schedule precedence, typically a finish-to-start.
  2. Ensure all risk mitigation activities (1) are clearly defined, (2) are objective, not subjective, and (3) have specific, measurable outcomes. For example, the statement “Performing a test” fails each of the three criteria, whereas “Brassboard throughput test results met or exceeded all performance thresholds requirements, and the results are approved by the user” passes all three criteria.
  3. Assign a planned likelihood and consequence value to each risk mitigation activity. Some activities may not result in a score change or burn-down of the risk but are necessary to track the progress of the burn-down plan (e.g., meetings do not mitigate risks, results do).
  4. Estimate the start and finish dates for each risk mitigation activity.
  5. Include the risk mitigation activities or a subset of these activities in the program IMS. Programs should update the IMS for mitigation of emergent risks not accommodated in the existing work plans. Tasks identified in the IMS should describe an activity, a specific measurable outcome, and a point of contact responsible for the completion of each task.
  6. Chart the relationship of risk mitigation activities, plotting risk level versus time to estimate their relative risk burn-down/reduction contribution.

Risk monitoring should include the use of burn-down charts to track actual progress against the plan. It includes a snapshot of the progress of mitigating the risk over time and the effectiveness of previous risk mitigation activity.

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