Risk Burndown Graphs

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Another tool used alongside with the Risk Map is a Risk Burndown Graph. Risk Burndown graphs are very useful for seeing if the total project risk is increasing or decreasing over time. It allows stakeholders to see instantly if we are reducing project risk.


Sample Risk Burndown Graph

An example Risk Burndown Chart is shown below (this risk Burndown Graph should be kept up to date as part of your project risk analysis work):


Points to Note in a Risk Burndown Graphs

There are two key pieces of information which the Risk Burndown Graph shows immediately:

  1. Whether the overall level of risk in the project or program is decreasing over time (are we reducing project risk?)
  2. Whether individual risks are increasing in severity over time and whether new risks are being introduced. In the above example we can see that two new risks were introduced between months 2 and 3, and that the “Program is underestimated” risk increased in severity from month 1 to 2.

Risk Burndown Graph Template

Use the template provided here to create your program Risk Burndown Graph. For each risk, just two key pieces of information need to be entered into the spreadsheet (project risk register) for the Risk Burndown Graph to be calculated – impact and probably, which should both be in the range of 1 – 5. 5 indicating a high impact or or probability, and 1 a very low impact or probability.


Risk Burndown graphs are a great way of showing stakeholders quickly if overall we are reducing project risk. It may be that at the point when you are to launch the product or service there are still some risks outstanding. In this instance a business decision needs to be made as to whether these outstanding risks should delay the project or program.


  1. Risk Burndown Graph
  2. [Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs Book by Dean Leffingwell, Don Widrig]
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