Risk Identification Barriers

An overview of risk identification barriers with implementation of PMI standards in construction projects


Mostafa H. Kotb (1) and Mohamed M. Ghattas (2)

(1) Prof of Structural Engineering – Faculty of Engineering
AZHAR University – Egypt

(2) Civil Engineer, Project Manager, PMP, PMI-RMPTM
Egypt and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia



Construction industry is full of uncertainty, this cause money losses and schedule slippage, that is why risk management is essential to deliver a successful project, even though some organizations implement risk management processes, but they are not able to deal effectively with risks, one of the reasons is because some risks not identified, risk identification is a difficult and complicated process, here the author reviews risk identification process purposes, inputs, weaknesses of tools and techniques, and some common barriers blocking successful identification of project risks. This article is an overview for organizations and practitioners to help them get over those barriers to successfully identify project risks.

Keywords: Risk management, Risk identification, Construction

  1. Introduction

In construction field uncertainty is everywhere, especially nowadays when political and financial crisis is affecting the construction industry. Project management aims to apply skills and tools to successfully deliver the project and satisfy stakeholders, risk management deals with both negative and positive risks. Addressing risk is an important task, as the success of risk management depends heavily on early risk identification, risk management is not a choice it is the main step in the way to deliver a successful project. not taking risk is a business loss, to win you should play risk management effectively and promote an effective way to deal with risks, eliminating all threats or exploiting all opportunities is not an effective way as may cause great disastrous consequences on project objectives, when an organization understand the nature of risks and manage them effectively, it can avoid unforeseen risks and work with a tight budget, schedule, and few contingency limits.

What is a risk? Even this is a simple question it has more than an answer, here the author reviewed common dentitions of risk. As per PMI, risk is “an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives such as scope, schedule, cost, and quality”, Risk causes are defined in an iterative and cohesive manner as risk can have more than a cause, Risk is either positive known as opportunities or negative known as threat, many people think only negative risks only should be addressed and managed, by this behavior they are missing opportunities and business. (1)

As per W.D. Rowe, risk is an uncertain future event that if occurred positively or negatively affect the project, Risk is a way to look into the future to minimize negative effects and maximize positive impacts. Also defined as the probability for unwanted positive or negative impacts of an event (2). Also referred to expected hazardous situation or chances. Risk is the probability that a set of unknown events will cause some harm or gain over some timeframe as defined by Jardine C.G. (3).

The goal of project risk management is to identify risks and separate them from issues earlier as soon as possible to give risk manager the chance to prioritize them and suggest actions to deal with those risks. Risks may or may not happen and are described based on the probability of occurrence and impact on project objectives.

Risk management is essential to success of projects, aims to minimize losses and enhance gains, dealing with politics, business, labors, economic crisis makes the construction industry with a high-risk levels, also long periods projects may reach years, schedule slippage and cost overruns attracted attention from clients, contractors and project managers, they started to think how to avoid these uncertain events, identify, evaluate and find plans to deal with them, this is the main goal of risk management.

Risk Management defined as a group of processes concerned with risk management planning, identification, analysis, planning responses and monitoring and controlling risks on a project (1)

Risk management is the most difficult portion of project management. Risk manager must identify the risk and their root causes and monitor these causes through the project. Furthermore, risk management mainly aims to achieve the project objectives (6) and he should start risk management as early as possible at project start, this will increase project success chances and achieving demands.


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About the Authors

Prof. Dr. Mostafa H. Kotb

Prof of Structural Engineering
Faculty of Engineering
AZHAR University – Egypt



Prof. Dr. Mostafa H. Kotb, Prof of Structural Engineering from 2006 till now, Field of interests behavior of design of steel structures, strengthening and repair of reinforced concrete elements for structure interactions and rehabilitation of civil infrastructure, Vice dean from 2011 till end of 2015, Assistant chair of Al-AZHAR International Engineering Conference from 2000 till 2014.

For more information, visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-mostafa-kotb-85ab353a/?ppe=1

E-Mail: [email protected]

Mobile: 0020-100 100 3125


Mohamed Metwaly Ghattas, PMP, PMI-RMP

Egypt – KSA



Mohamed Ghattas, PMP, PMI-RMP, Project manager with 5 years of experience in construction projects in Saudi Arabia, is currently a Project Manager at AI Rajhi Capital. Interested in risk management and cost management

For more information, visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/mohamed-ghattas-pmp-rmp-b62a5526/

E-Mail: [email protected]

Mobile: 00966-59 590 4818