What is the difference between Project Risks and Issues?

What is ahead of your project?  you can prevent risks before the project but what about the issues you didn't plan for?

What is ahead of your project? you can prevent risks before the project but what about the issues you didn’t plan for?

I’ve been a project manager for over 10 years and In my experience people tend to confuse the difference between risk and issues.

According to the 5th Edition of PMI (Project Management Insititue) PMBOK Guide, project risk is “an uncertain event or condition that if it occurs has a positive or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives such as scope schedule cost or objectives .

While on the other hand ISSUES is something that is happening right now. It is important that you keep track of issues. Project managers should review issues daily until it gets resolved.

Another quote from PMI

Risks vs. issues. Poor risk or issue management can lead to project failure. … It defines a risk as an event that has not happened yet, and an issue as something that already has happened.

Risk is not something you have to review daily until you hit a certain milestone. Good Project managers will ensure they avoid the identified risks and ensure it never materialize.

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Sometimes you can avoid the risks and have deal with it head on. That is why you identify it in the beginning and already have a plan to mitigate the risk.

For example, I had a project where I was delivering a Ethernet Fiber circuit to a property.  One the risks we knew upfront was the fact that we was not 100% sure there would be existing fiber facilities that the telecom company could ride the circuit on.  The risk was that a dig and fiber installation would be required.  This could increase the budget and lead time for delivery.  To mitigate the risk we just ordered 1 month earlier and had a 20k emergency capital budgeted just in case of this situation.

During the project their were issues like: Site contact not responding, shipping delay of equipment, lacking power outlets, and not enough rack space.  All those issues were unexpected and were resolved quickly.

To summarize, remember Risk is something that you forecast in the project at a certain time and hasn’t happened yet. Issues are problems happening right now and has to be resolved immediately. Unresolved issues can lead to project failure

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