Name: Risks.io (beta version)
Vendor: Looks like this is managed by an individual
Hosting options: Online
Costs and plans: Free
Risks.io is an online Risks, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies (RAID) log. At the moment the website oversells the product slightly, as you can’t manage dependencies with it, or track lessons learned. However, the product is only in beta at the moment so I imagine this functionality will come with time, especially as there isn’t a big firm behind in investing lots of time and effort into the product.
It’s easy to add risks. Simply complete a web form with the name, description, likelihood, impact and strategy (Mitigate, Avoid, Transfer and so on). You can also add a Type – there is a list of categories to choose from. However, while these show up on the main risk page, when you go into the risk detail itself, you can’t see the Type. You also can’t edit a risk – I got a database error message when I tried, although this is only the Beta version so I hope these bugs will be ironed out in due course.
Adding other features: milestones and issues
You can add milestones, and then create activities that link to milestones. However, there is no check to make sure that the task end date is at the time of the milestone. I created an activity due to finish after the milestone it was attached to, so you’d have to be aware of this. As a result, it’s not a good tool for project planning, although it’s not designed to be a scheduling tool.
Adding an issue follows the same web form. It’s easy to complete, but it does lack some usability features. For example, when you create an issue, you can’t add a mitigation plan. You have to save your issue, then open it for editing and add the action plan. Once your issue is saved and you are viewing the issue detail page, you can’t click to add another issue. You have to go back to the main project page and add an issue from there. It’s only a small thing, but if you are entering several issues at once I can imagine this will be annoying. The system also automatically closed my issue once I had been in to edit it. Despite the detail page showing the risk as open, on the issue summary page it shows as closed.
You can upload files to issues and all the features seem to have a really detailed audit log which shows exactly who made what change when, which is great.
At the main account level there are some other options like managing domains and sites, which seem out of keeping with the main purpose of the site. I wonder if the system owner is trying to stretch the functionality too far instead of focusing on the core deliverable of producing a reliable online RAID log.
The ‘Add a team member’ doesn’t actually allow you to add a team member. Instead it lets you add a role to an existing team member. The standard roles are what you would find in a RACI chart, but you can add new roles like ‘Project Manager’ from the Account menu.
Sometimes my user details show up as my name, but in other fields (like risk creator) they show up as just my email address. It would be good to have some consistency here and I would prefer my name to appear in all relevant fields.
Risks.io sends email alerts to the assigned owners of risks, issues and so on. I couldn’t see how to opt out of alerts. Obviously if you are making a lot of changes or entering a lot of risks and issues you don’t necessarily want to receive an email for each one. I got 4 emails just through setting up one issue and assigning it to me. However, the email alert system is very handy as a prompt to team members who are less than proactive about updating their risks and issues.
Reports, tasks and more
There doesn’t seem to be any reporting features. You can’t export the lists of risks, issues or anything else as .pdf files or in any other format, so if you need to email a list of project assumptions or manipulate the data in another package, you can’t.
Tasks don’t seem to link to a project but you can add ‘Work in progress’ items. This is effectively your personal to do list, as you can’t assign tasks to anyone else. I quite liked this feature, although I don’t think there is any need to have the date the item was created displayed on the main WIP summary page. Just having the due date would save space. I also didn’t like the obligation to add a description. I felt my WIP task names were quite descriptive enough.
There is no help documentation or forum, or any collaboration features apart from the ability to upload documents. Maybe this will come later – while the system is pretty intuitive it is always useful to have some help information for when you need it.
Risks.io bills itself as an online Risks, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies (RAID) log, although you don’t actually have the option of adding any dependencies. Currently in beta version, there are plenty of bugs that need ironing out. The concept of an easy to use, free online way to manage risks and issues is very good and it will remove the need for teams to use multiple versions of spreadsheets to record this information. The audit log is really good and the tool has plenty of potential. Once the tweaks and spelling errors are fixed and this is released as a fully-fledged piece of software it has the opportunity to be very useful as an online project management tool, especially if your software doesn’t have the ability to record risks, issues, assumptions and dependencies.
However, right now I can’t recommend Risks.io. It will frustrate you if you are used to the flexibility of a spreadsheet where you can add new columns and format it as you like. But give it a bit of time and this could develop into something good.
Copyright © A Girl's Guide to Project Management [Software review: Risks.io], All Right Reserved. 2013.
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