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An integrated risk management tool and process

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2 Author(s)
J. Perera ; Johnson Space Center, NASA, Houston, TX, USA ; J. Holsomback

Most project managers know that risk management (RM) is essential to good project management. At NASA, standards and procedures to manage risk through a tiered approach have been developed - from the global agency requirements down to a program or project implementation. The basic methodology for NASA's risk management strategy includes processes to identify, analyze, plan, track, control, communicate and document risks. The identification, characterization, mitigation plan, and mitigation responsibilities associated with specific risks are documented to help communicate, manage, and effectuate appropriate closure. This approach helps to ensure more consistent documentation and assessment and provides a means of archiving lessons learned for future identification or mitigation activities. A new risk database and management tool was developed by NASA in 2002 and since has been used successfully to communicate, document and manage a number of diverse risks for the International Space Station, Space Shuttle, and several other NASA projects and programs. Program organizations use this database application to effectively manage and track each risk and gain insight into impacts from other organization's viewpoint. Schedule, cost, technical and safety issues are tracked in detail through this system. Risks are tagged within the system to ensure proper review, coordination and management at the necessary management level. The database is intended as a day-to-day tool for organizations to manage their risks and elevate those issues that need coordination from above. Each risk is assigned to a managing organization and a specific risk owner who generates mitigation plans as appropriate. In essence, the risk owner is responsible for shepherding the risk through closure. The individual that identifies a new risk does not necessarily get assigned as the risk owner. Whoever is in the best position to effectuate comprehensive closure is assigned as the risk owner. Each mitigatio- n plan includes the specific tasks that will be conducted to either decrease the likelihood of the risk occurring and/or lessen the severity of the consequences. As each mitigation task is completed, the responsible managing organization records the completion of the task in the risk database and then re-scores the risk considering the task's results. By keeping scores updated, a managing organization's current top risks and risk posture can be readily identified including the status of any risk in the system. A number of metrics measure risk process trends from data contained in the database. This allows for trend analysis to further identify improvements to the process and assist in the management of all risks. The metrics also scrutinize both the effectiveness and compliance of risk management requirements. The risk database is an evolving tool and is continuously improved with capabilities requested by the NASA project community. This paper presents the basic foundations of risk management, the elements necessary for effective risk management, and the capabilities of this new risk database and how it is implemented to support NASA's risk management needs.

Published in:

2005 IEEE Aerospace Conference

Date of Conference:

5-12 March 2005