A Guide To Risk Breakdown Structure In Project Management

Every organisation faces challenges in its development journey, especially in its early stages. To minimise or prevent such challenges, organisations must stay clear of any potential risks they may face. Having a risk breakdown structure in your project management toolkit can be a powerful asset when managing the risks associated with business ventures becomes tedious.

A Risk Breakdown Structure (RBS) is a tool for managing risks, which are outcomes or events you have not expected or planned. It is usually presented in a chart that accurately breaks down the risks of a project from the highest level of risk to the lowest level.

Identifying risks is one of the basic principles of project management. Risks can interfere with a project’s goals, whether good or bad.

How to make a risk breakdown structure

To maintain consistency and simplicity, many organisations adopt a standard risk breakdown structure template for all projects. A risk breakdown structure is a simple grid, with an overall risk definition at the top, followed by more specific definitions as you move down the grid. A spreadsheet can also be used, with the risk becoming more clearly defined as you go from left to right.

1. Identify risk categories

The first step in making a risk breakdown structure is identifying the top-line risk categories. The basic categories for the risk breakdown structure are internal, external, management and technical. These categories can be fine-tuned based on your industry.

Identifying risks associated with any project and categorising and ranking them makes it easier for project managers to plan for and mitigate the impacts of those risks effectively.

2. Breakdown specific risks

You will then need to refine your level-one categories into subcategories: start broad and keep refining your topic as you go. Once you have identified and categorised all possible risks, it is time to prioritise them so that allocating resources toward risk mitigation is easier.

3. Score the risk and impact

To properly allocate resources toward risk mitigation, it is essential to categorise and prioritise all possible risks. Breaking down the different risks and giving each risk a score will help determine which risk would impact the project most. Prioritising risks will help you determine which one deserves immediate attention and which can apply later.

Advantages of a risk breakdown structure

Executing a detailed and elaborate risk breakdown structure in project management brings many benefits to the organisation and the project manager.

A risk breakdown structure gives project managers a complete and organised view of the risks involved in a project. Additionally, project managers could plan and accurately assign resources for the positive and negative impacts of the identified risks.


Risk management is essential in maximising positive outcomes and mitigating negative outcomes. The ability to assess risks perfectly is a step towards ensuring the success of a project. It is never a good idea to ignore risks without a plan to address them.

Suppose you’re looking to upgrade your skillset as a project manager; in that case, BridgingMinds offers PMP training in Singapore to equip you with the necessary knowledge and industry insights to lead your next project to success. You may also consider getting a PRINCE2 Foundation certification in Singapore to solidify your position as a project manager.