Managing Project Risk


By Natasha Narh 

University of Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa



The purpose of this paper is to analyse the concept of project management and explain the processes involved in project risk management. Previous literature on the subject of project risk management in conjunction with the PMBok is used as a base for the analysis of project risk management.

The PMBok and literature revealed that despite the fact that project risk management differs from project to project and is influenced by project size, type and complexity (Omidvar, 2011), risk management generally follows a continuous cycle of risk identification, analysis, responds and control (Besner & Hobbs, 2012). This paper explains that these processes require the utilisation of certain tools and techniques to ensure effective project risk management. Furthermore, this paper highlights the need for collaborative team effort in risk mitigation and the importance of effective communication of risk responds measures to relevant project team members.

From these analyses, the paper concludes that project risk management is critical in ensuring that project objectives are successfully accomplished to clients’ satisfaction.


Risk is defined as an event, a condition (Boehm & Turner, 2003) or an uncertainty (Besner & Hobbs, 2012) that has the potential to have either a negative or positive effect on a project (Hillson, 2009). This positive effect is generally regarded as an opportunity rather than a risk (Hillson, 2009). The nature of the uncertainty in risk and its differentiation is debated amongst authors such as Boehm and Turner (2003).

They differentiate the two stating that an uncertainty is immeasurable while a risk is measureable. An uncertainty is a random probability of an uncontrollable event occurrence. This therefore renders it immeasurable. Project risks are inevitable and as such necessitate the need for risk mitigation to facilitate the consequences of foreseeable threats (Besner & Hobbs, 2012).


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Editor’s note: This paper was prepared for a second semester course on Engineering Management in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

About the Author 

pmwj15-oct2013-narh-AUTHOR IMAGEflag-south-africapmwj15-oct2013-narh-FLAG OF GHANANatash Narh

Cape Town, South Africa

Natasha Afi Narh was born in Ghana where she completed her primary education. She then relocated to Zimbabwe to attend Arundel Secondary School for her secondary education. Ms Narh holds a degree in Construction Studies and another in Quantity Surveying from the University of Cape Town where she is currently pursuing a Master in Engineering Management and Systems Thinking. Ms Narh is affiliated with the Green Building Council of South Africa and is a Green Star Accredited Professional aiming to steer on sustainability and effective management in the industry.  She can be contacted at [email protected]

Founded in 1829 as the South African College, the University of Cape Town (UCT) is the oldest university in South Africa and the second oldest extant university in Africa.  UCT is a public research university located in Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. With approximately 25,000 students, almost evenly split between men and women, UCT is ranked among the top 150 universities in the world and often ranked as South Africa’s top university.  More information at https://www.uct.ac.za/