Effective Risk Management

via Early Warning Signal System and Procedures


By Priti Vaid




At any point in time in any organization there are multiple programs being executed, each one at a different stage of execution and operating at a different level of maturity and proximity to the finish line. To determine the right candidates for review and interventions by the senior management a risk based prioritization model can be effectively established. Not only will this model help divide the senior mgmt. time effectively among those that warrant attention but also help in risk bubbling at the right time towards the right focus areas proactively.


In general Risk Management can be defined as the practice of identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks followed by coordinated effort and resources to minimize, monitor, and control the probability and/or impact of unfortunate events and/or to maximize the realization of opportunities. If the identification is done proactively it can drastically bring down both the resources required to monitor and control and also the probability or impact of the unfortunate event as an outcome.

To identify risks proactively a framework for intercepting “Early Warning Signals” (EWS) based on different dimensions & metrics applicable at each stage of the project has been explained below. These EWS are triggers which point towards potential discontinuities / disruptions to the project progress and hence need to be arrested on priority by means of adequate review and controls.

Risk identification can be done at each phase of the project using a risk profiling tool. This profiling tool is a multiple option questionnaire across several dimensions which help determine the risk exposure of the project. Several in-flight metrics can also be built into the model along with this subjective profiling to determine the risk exposure. Some of the suggested metrics are % deviation in schedule, % deviation in cost, % deviation in effort, team satisfaction score, client satisfaction score, etc.

The output of this profiling tool along with the metrics values can be used to determine a composite risk exposure score and determine the final positioning of the project on the Risk Heat-map. The set of dimensions and metrics available can differ from one phase to another and can have different thresholds for their scores. It is also important to seek views of all relevant stakeholders at each phase to get a 360 degree view of the project.


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About the Author

Priti Vaid



Priti Vaid
, with close to 17 years of experience in IT industry, has played varied roles with a top IT service provider; globally reputed and founded in India. Apart from software development and program management experience she has keen interest and rich experience in Program delivery Risk Management. She has been one of the key players in design and deployment of a Heat-map based risk identification, analysis and prioritization tool. This tool not only helps to identify risks but also helps to bring to focus the right logical entities requiring additional attention by the senior management. She strongly believes in the statement “The only alternative to risk management is crisis management”.

Priti Vaid can be contacted at [email protected]