Home > Articles

This chapter is from the book

Risk Communication Documentation


Risk management is effective only when the information derived from it is shared liberally across an enterprise. The documentation that supports risk management is extensive, including charts already shared in this text, such as the responsibility assignment matrix, the RACI chart, the risk breakdown structure, and the organizational risk lexicon. Each of these documents provides a layer of depth that others do not. Each document highlights a different aspect of the risk process, encouraging a deeper understanding of the risks, their sources, and their nature.

The single most significant document related to identifying and managing individual risks is the risk register, discussed in depth in Chapter 7, “Practical, Team-Based Risk Identification.” Although the approach to completing a risk register is discussed there, the framework for what it should include is incorporated in the risk management plan. As a component of the risk archive, the framework was examined in some depth in Chapter 1, “The Risk Structure.”

The key to any communication is clarity. The risk manager is responsible for clarifying terms, phrases, and frameworks that are intended to convey the risk message.

For every piece of risk communication, there are critical elements. They include

  • The author

  • The timing for the original communication and any reviews/updates

  • The recipients

  • The communications modes

There are also distinctions in the nature of the content of the communication. PMI® makes that distinction in the forms of data, information, and reports.

  • Data are raw facts, with no processing whatsoever. As such, it is the least biased of the content areas. When the term is used, it suggests that no analysis has taken place and no interpretation has transpired.

  • Information is data that has been processed in some way, shape, or form. Categories might have been created or data affinities (natural groupings) might be applied. Although the bias in information is limited, the simple act of sorting can be done under the umbrella of a particular perspective. As such, information is more interpretive and can afford greater depth.

  • Reports represent information in a formalized package. Reports create a frame around the information and can readily be skewed to afford the information a specific perspective. This is where bias is most significant in communications.

The Author

All communications have a degree of bias. As soon as data are processed into information, the processor’s bias comes into play. If that author catalogs all information according to risk sources (as in the risk breakdown structure), then there’s a bias to examine risk sources. If the author catalogs all information according to geographical region, a geographical bias can exist. The author thus becomes the arbiter of bias, even when such bias is unintended.

The author is important to the process because this individual also serves as a kind of personal archive. Many are the instances where risk information seekers will turn to the original authors of the risks or the responses to determine assumptions and intent.

For many aspects of the risk process, a single bit of data could have multiple authors. When that’s the case, all authors should be given credit for their role in the process. The varied assumptions and intent may reflect that a single risk is actually multiple risks drawn from a single data point.

The Timing

Communications timing can refer to when the information was originally documented or when the information needs to be refreshed or reviewed. By way of example, the book Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations was originally published in 1855. Since then, there have been 17 subsequent editions. The 14th edition, published in 1968, has eight quotes from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the next edition, the count goes to 12 quotes. The quotes were not newer. They reflect the timing of the information capture and Dr. King’s perceived importance. Timing matters. Post-9/11 risk lists will not look the same as any captured in the twentieth century. Post-COVID risk lists will incorporate risks not seriously considered in the 2010s. The timing of risk information becomes very important.

By acknowledging the shifting tides of information, and documenting when those tides might shift again, the risk manager has a much richer data set with which to work.

The Recipients

In a sender–receiver communications model, there are filters on both ends of the model. The sender filters information through language, gesture, and tone. The receiver does likewise. If the recipients and their filters are not considered during information gathering or information dissemination, the true intent of the messaging could be lost. If one identifies a driving risk as “The bonnet might come loose, flying off at high speeds,” a failure to acknowledge the recipients and their culture can lead to broad miscommunication. In the States, for example, that risk might be seen as the loss of a woman’s hat. In the UK, it would be a reference to the hood over an engine. The recipients are a vital element of the communication, and their geography, social status, and culture will all play into an understanding of the message at hand.

Communications Modes

The clearest communications occur face to face. Per communications theorist Albert Mehrabian, that’s the setting where it’s possible to get 100% of the communication across. Take away any aspect of the communication, and some of the messaging will be lost. Mehrabian argues that only 7% of the likeability of any communication is conveyed by the words alone. A phrase such as, “Sure, I believe that,” can be said in serious or sarcastic tone. But as written, it’s impossible to discern intent. Thus, risk information sharing is most clear when we have the opportunity to go beyond the simple written word.

Mehrabian continues that another 38% of the likeability of messaging is conveyed through vocal inflection and tone. A telephone call may not be the ideal means of sharing risk information, but it’s definitely a major improvement over an email.

As for face to face? That’s the remaining 55%. This is a major consideration associated directly with those in the Agile environment (which PMI is heavily invested in). A cornerstone of Agile management practices is an event called a daily Scrum. The daily Scrum is a brief, heavily structured meeting held each morning with all team members physically present. The meeting is short. Each team member is asked the same three questions at every meeting:

  • What did you do yesterday?

  • What will you be doing today?

  • What’s standing in your way?

This structured data-gathering is crucial not only to Agile management but to risk management within Agile. The third question regarding potential impediments is a clear risk question. In many cases, this is a future-looking question, rather than a question about present states. As such, that means the question will often capture risks identified since the previous day.

Although PMI does not expect you to be able to identify Mehrabian or his theories, they do anticipate you will embrace the thinking behind his theories. You are also expected to know the three questions of Agile management Scrum meetings and which of the three most closely aligns with risk management practice.

For any questions in this area, understanding Mehrabian’s theories should suffice in coming up with answers. Recognizing that pure words are limited in their ability to share insights is important. Seeing body language and other paralinguals provides the richest communications experience.

One other aspect of communications matters here. Because of the fluid nature of risk management, consistency in documentation practice is vital. The forms and formats discussed earlier in this chapter grant the project manager latitude to focus on the risk practice rather than the library sciences.

Pearson IT Certification Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Pearson IT Certification and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Pearson IT Certification products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.pearsonitcertification.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020