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Table 3 Methods to identify threats

From: Managing project risks and uncertainties

Method Procedure Advantages Disadvantages
Hindsight Review successes and failures. Error elimination. Learn by experience. Not anticipate events. Poor for big irreversible impacts.
Informal Expert guesswork, intuition, asking stakeholders. System 1 thinking. Quick, easy, cheap. Overlook and misunderstand threats. Over-influenced by occasional big sensational events (e.g. airliner crashes), under-influenced by common events (e.g. road accidents).
Checklist and matrix Adopts threats encountered on previous similar projects. Formal. Simple. Uses experience. Limited information. Every project more or less unique so some listed threats possibly irrelevant & other threats overlooked.
Input–output analysis (IOA) Deconstructs project into components each of which is analysed in terms of inputs, outputs, gains or losses of energy, matter, rights & opportunities. System 2 thinking. Formal. Addresses specifics of a project. Diligent, defensible and repeatable. Costly – requires experience, time, money and effort.
Constraints analysis Identifies & links main obstacles (i.e. constraints, threats) to desired outcome. System 2 thinking. Concise means of representing cause-effect relations among already identified threats & desired outcome. Does not of itself identify threats, and best done in conjunction with or after IOA.
Scenario analysis Assess possible future conditions by considering outcomes of 2–3 contrasting event sequences. Considers development paths & consequences of possible futures. Appropriate for strategy & external threats. Does not predict one exact picture of the future. Big picture. Qualitative.
What-if analysis More focused than scenario analysis, usually quantitative. Useful for establishing, optimizing & refining costs & benefits. Usable if options are quantifiable.