Risk Register is a tool that we use in the risk management process. It is nothing but a repository or a simple table that lists all identified risks and related information about each listed risk. There are many different tools that can act as risk registers from comprehensive GRC and project management software suites to simple spreadsheets or even a hand-written table. The effectiveness of mentioned tools depends on the way of implementation and the organization’s size, culture and complexity.
The main intent to use the risk register is identifying and tracking potential risks in an organization. Mostly to fulfill compliance requirements but the ultimate goal is to stay on top of potential loss or damage when a threat exploits a vulnerability. So we can say the risk register is a handy tracking tool, which can be used to track risks if they in fact appear and then evaluate the actions you have set in place as a response to them.
The risk register includes a lot of information about each and every identified risk, such as date and description of each risk, risk score, who owns that particular risk in your organization and the details of the treatment measures in place to respond to it.
Having a detailed list to track your organizational risks, like a very simple table or as part of a GRC management software, must be one of the priorities in any organization whether it is a large corporation or a small business. When you register risks in a table or spreadsheet, you have a place to enter risk-related data and then you can follow a specific risk throughout its lifecycle in your organization. A risk tracking tool keeps the risk on a tight leash for you to help you monitor the risks in one place and take a quick action to respond to the risk. Risk response can be risk mitigation, risk acceptance, risk transfer, or risk avoidance.
There is a kind of risk in everything, and that goes doubly for governance of any organization with lots of moving parts. You will never be able to address or prevent all issues and threats that you face in an organization. However, by doing your due diligence, you will be able to have a kind of response plan in your hand to act quickly before the risks become real problems and make complications. I mean by documenting risks and their related details in a risk register, you are less likely to lose track of the risk in your organization, which gives you assurance that risks do not turn into real problems or threaten your assets or the success of your business.
The first step in Risk Management and building the Risk Register is Risk Identification. You can consult experienced stakeholders or use and review historical data to identify common risks to your organization. Get your team together to brainstorm any potential risk. Every team member has a role in your organization and is responsible for a particular aspect of your business, so use their expertise to help you identify potential risks. As I mentioned before, you will also need to talk to all stakeholders to make sure you have brought their concerns on the table.
The culture, complexity and size of your organization is the main factor for the size of your Risk Register. Make sure to list all important risks in the risk register.
In my belief the core components of a typical risk register must be:
- Description and nature of the risk
- Risk score
- Risk treatment measure (like mitigation action)
- Owner of the risk
- Risk tolerance level
- Risk ratings
- Related project, product or department
- Affected stakeholders
- Assessment detail
- Contingent response (the actions to be taken should the risk event actually occur)
- Trigger (an event that itself results in the risk event occurring)