Risk Report vs. Risk Register in Project Management

Risk Report vs Risk Register on the PMP Exam

Risk Analysis and Risk Management are fundamental concepts for Project Management Professionals (PMP)®. You must be able to mitigate surprises and disruptions, and while creating a risk management plan is an essential step, it doesn’t address the specific risks your project faces. Two critical tools: a risk report and a risk register, identify and detail project risks and your plan to manage them. This article will explore what these artifacts are in project management, their differences (vs), and what you need to know for the PMP® exam.

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How a Risk Report and Risk Register Relate

It’s easy to confuse these terms, but all PMP® credential holders understand the difference is crucial as they are foundational resources for risk management. The risk register is where you document specific risks and how to handle them. The risk report summarizes what risks you have identified, which have occurred, what responses you have implemented, and the overall risk exposure to the project. 

What is a Risk Report?

By definition, a risk report is a communication tool that contains information about overall project risk and summary information on individual project risks. It can also be considered an executive summary that indicates the most critical factors driving overall risk exposure for the project. It helps maintain risk awareness and engagement throughout the organization by documenting the sources of project risk overall and providing a summary of individual project risks. It is a snapshot of risk management work at a given moment.

The report must successfully communicate the message you need to deliver to your particular audience. It should be clear and concise and indicate actions taken, preparation for other risk-related activities, and any inputs required by stakeholders to ensure continuous risk management support.

Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis, Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis, Plan Risk Responses, Implement Risk Responses, and Monitor Risks are examples of the processes where risk data is collected, monitored, and updated.

What is a Risk Register?

The risk register contains individual, identified risks facing the project and the assessment, response plan, etc., for each opportunity or threat. It is a Log file that works as a master database of all the risks captured and other related information such as Qualitative Analysis, Quantitative Analysis, and risk responses. It is often updated regularly throughout a project to identify new risks as they arise or when existing risk assessments are updated.

A risk register describes all relevant information about the risk, including the event, cause, impact, probability, responses, owners, and status. It is a document used throughout the project to make informed decisions and is an input into the risk report, which conveys the overall risk status at a given moment. Both are part of the larger risk management plan.

Risk Report vs Risk Register on the PMP Exam

Part of the PMP certification exam assesses one’s understanding of risk management tools, activities, and documents, including the risk report and risk register. In trying to understand the similarities and differences between the two, an excellent way to think about them is that a risk register is more detailed. In contrast, a risk report is a summary.


Project managers are constantly working to identify, document, and handle different types of risks to minimize surprises during a project. Understanding what a risk report and register are will be fundamental to grasping key risk management concepts on the PMP exam and helping analyze and improve your ability to complete a project successfully.

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Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO
Director of Product Development at
Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO