Risk Identification

All risks identified should be analyzed thoroughly in terms of hardware, software and programmatic issues. Usually in the concept of operations a team would start to identify potential risks at the launch and checkout portions of the mission. The launch of the spacecraft cannot be controlled by the CubeSat team and should not be considered in the risk management plan. However, it is important to understand that the checkout portion of the mission can be delayed if your specific payload for the mission is not delivered on time to the launch point. It is thus necessary to always have your delivery date in mind and keep a clear schedule for all members of the team.


Figure 2


The most important step perhaps in risk identification is to assign a responsible and trustworthy person, to each root cause, who is accountable for mitigating mission risks associated with that specific root cause. Ultimate responsibility falls on the project manager, but having one person responsible for specific root causes that is most knowledgeable about the specific cause is paramount to ensuring a smoothly run risk management program throughout the life of the project.


L-C Ranking of Root Causes

After you have identified all risks associated with your project it is important to rank them according to both a risk's likelihood and its consequence. Both likelihood and consequence are ranked on a 1-5 scale with "1" being a risk that is "least severe" in terms of likelihood or consequence while "5" would be a "most critical" risk in terms of likelihood or consequence. Below we have two tables: one for assessing likelihood (Figure 1) and one for assessing consequence (Figure 2). The table for assessing likelihood is a consistent resource among many sources of L-C ranking scales while the consequence table includes three types of ways to assess a consequence of a root cause: in terms of technical implications, schedule implications and perhaps most importantly the cost implications.



Figure 3


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Along with your L-C Risk Values you should accompany each "data point" with a thorough explanation that communicates the rationale for the respective likelihood and consequence values.  It might be a good idea to accompany your explanation with an ongoing discussion forum where the current status of the risk and the issues surrounding the risk are posted.


Classifying Priorities

Determining Priority Values

The priority given to risks based off of the L-C values assigned can be easily objectively quantified. Simply take the product of your likelihood and consequence for a particular risk and then rank all risks from highest product value to lowest product value. You now have a easy-to-see priority list of risks associated with your CubeSat mission.

Converting and Plotting Likelihood-Consequence Rankings to Risk Values

Another way of classifying or understanding priorities in a risk evaluation process is to construct an L-C plot using your likelihood measurement of a particular risk as its "x-value" and its consequence value as the "y-value." It is very easy then to construct a plot on a grid (if you are only dealing with integer, discrete values for your risk likelihood and consequence values) to visualize your priorities. You might also be color-coding the plot, with the lower left hand corner being a "green zone" (values that represent lower, less mission-critical priorities) and the upper right-hand corner being a "red zone" (higher priority, mission-critical priorities). Displayed below is a L-C Chart example.


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Exercising your Knowledge


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