Risk Assessment

Why is Risk Assessment a part of planning? 

The reason for risk analysis is to gain an understanding of the potential sources and causes of failure and their associated costs.  Measuring the risk prior to testing can help the process in two ways:

  • High-risk applications can be identified and more extensive testing can be performed.
  • Risk analysis can help draw attention to the critical components and/or focus areas for testing that are most important from the system or user standpoint.

In general, the greater the potential cost of an error in a system, the greater the effort and the resources assigned to prevent these errors from occurring.

Risk is the product of the probability of occurrence of an error and the cost and consequence of failure. Three key areas of risk that have significant influence on a project are:

  • Project size
  • Experience with technology
  • Project structure

The potential cost/risk factor, independent of any particular error, must be taken into consideration when developing an overall testing strategy and a test plan for a particular system.

One approach to assessing risk is:

  • List what can go wrong during the operation of the application once implemented, and the likelihood of occurrence.
  • Determine the cost of failure.  For example, loss of business, loss of image, loss of confidence in the system, security risk, and financial risk, for each of these problems to the organization if it occurred.
  • Determine what level of confidence is required and what the critical success factors are from an application development and testing point of view.

A strategy and subsequent plans to manage these risks will form the basis of the testing strategy.

  • How much effort and expense should be put into testing
  • When the potential loss exceeds the cost of testing, the testing is cost justified

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