Project Management

Quatatative Risk Analysis Tools and Techniques

Quantitative Risk Analysis is performed on risks that have been prioritized by the Qualitative Risk Analysis process.  The Quantitative Risk Analysis process analyzes the effect of those risk events and assigns a numerical rating to those risks. It also presents a quantitative approach to making decisions in the presence of uncertainty. Since it is more expensive, it is only done on those risks we already identified as potentially and substantially impacting the project’s competing demands.


This process uses techniques such as Monte Carlo simulation and decision tree analysis to:


·    Quantify the possible outcomes for the project and their probabilities

·    Assess the probability of achieving specific project objectives

·    Identify risks requiring the most attention by quantifying their relative contribution to overall project risk

·    Identify realistic and achievable cost, schedule, or scope targets, given the project risks

·    Determine the best project management decision when some conditions or outcomes are uncertain.


Quantitative Risk Analysis generally follows the Qualitative Risk Analysis process, although experienced risk managers sometimes perform it directly after Risk Identification. In some cases, Quantitative Risk Analysis may not be required to develop effective risk responses. Availability of time and budget, and the need for qualitative or quantitative statements about risk and impacts, will determine which method(s) to use on any particular project. Quantitative Risk Analysis should be repeated after Risk Response Planning, as well as part of Risk Monitoring and Control, to determine if the overall project risk has been satisfactorily decreased. Trends can indicate the need for more or less risk management action.


·    Interviewing. Interviewing techniques are used to quantify the probability and impact of risks on project objectives. The information needed depends upon the type of probability distributions that will be used. For instance, information would be gathered on the optimistic (low), pessimistic (high), and most likely scenarios for some commonly used distributions, and the mean and standard deviation for others. Documenting the rationale of the risk ranges is an important component of the risk interview, because it can provide information on reliability and credibility of the analysis.

·    Probability distributions. Continuous probability distributions represent the uncertainty in values, such as durations of schedule activities and costs of project components. Discrete distributions can be used to represent uncertain events, such as the outcome of a test or a possible scenario in a decision tree.

·    Expert judgment. Subject matter experts internal or external to the organizations such as engineering or statistical experts, validate data and techniques.


Quantitative Risk Analysis and Modeling Techniques:


·    Sensitivity analysis. Sensitivity analysis helps to determine which risks have the most potential impact on the project. It examines the extent to which the uncertainty of each project element affects the objective being examined when all other uncertain elements are held at their baseline values. One typical display of sensitivity analysis is the tornado diagram, which is useful for comparing relative importance of variables that have a high degree of uncertainty to those that are more stable.

·    Expected monetary value analysis. Expected monetary value (EMV) analysis is a statistical concept that calculates the average outcome when the future includes scenarios that may or may not happen (i.e., analysis under uncertainty). The EMV of opportunities will generally be expressed as positive values, while those of risks will be negative. EMV is calculated by multiplying the value of each possible outcome by its probability of occurrence, and adding them together. A common use of this type of analysis is in decision tree analysis. Modeling and simulation are recommended for use in cost and schedule risk analysis, because they are more powerful and less subject to misuse than EMV analysis.

·    Decision tree analysis. Decision tree analysis is usually structured using a decision tree diagram that describes a situation under consideration, and the implications of each of the available choices and possible scenarios. It incorporates the cost of each available choice, the probabilities of each possible scenario, and the rewards of each alternative logical path. Solving the decision tree provides the EMV (or other measure of interest to the organization) for each alternative, when all the rewards and subsequent decisions are quantified.


Modeling and simulation:  


A project simulation uses a model that translates the uncertainties specified at a detailed level of the project into their potential impact on project objectives. Simulations are typically performed using the Monte Carlo technique. In a simulation, the project model is computed many times (iterated), with the input values randomized from a probability distribution function (e.g., cost of project elements or duration of schedule activities) chosen for each iteration from the probability distributions of each variable. A probability distribution (e.g., total cost or completion date) is calculated.


For a cost risk analysis, a simulation can use the traditional project WBS or a cost breakdown structure as its model. For a schedule risk analysis, the precedence diagramming method (PDM) schedule is used.




October 19, 2008 - Posted by | Risk Management | , , , ,


  1. In the realm of risk, unmanaged possibilities become probabilities. For example, data breaches and thefts are due to a lagging business culture. As CIO, I’m always looking for ways to help my team, business teams, and ad hoc measures of various vendors, contractors and internal team members. A book that is required reading (specific chapters, depending on nature of projects) is “I.T. Wars: Managing the Business-Technology Weave in the New Millennium.” It has a great chapter regarding security (among others).

    We keep a few copies kicking around – it would be a bit much to expect outside agencies to purchase it on our say-so. But, particularly when entertaining bids for projects, we ask potential solutions partners to review relevant parts of the book, and it ensures that these agencies understand our values and practices.

    The author, David Scott, has an interview here that is a great exposure:

    The book came to us as a tip from one of our interns who attended a course at University of Wisconsin, where the book is in use; I like to pass along things that work, in the hope that good ideas continue to make their way to me. I hope you can make use of this info…

    Comment by John Franks | October 20, 2008 | Reply

  2. I will take a look at that thanks! It sounds like you run a business as I like to with continuous learning taking place for the whole team. That’s a great way to build a well functioning team!


    Comment by Donna Ritter | October 20, 2008 | Reply

  3. Hey Guys,
    I’m interested in on line study concerning “Risk Analysis”.
    Torture is the least that can describe my agony caused through “surfing over the net”…. If you can show me the way for HIGH Diploma I would appreciate it extremely…
    Thanks in Advance…..
    I admired the essay so much though some I could not get…


    Comment by Essam K. Shaat | October 30, 2008 | Reply

  4. Thank you for these great information


    Comment by pmp course in egypt | March 13, 2010 | Reply

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