5X5 Risk Matrix

5 X 5 risk matrix the best option for qualitative risk

TRM Advantage: Using the 5X5 Risk Matrix for Qualitative Risk Analysis


Risk management is an essential aspect of any organization. It involves identifying, analyzing, and managing risks that may consequence the organization’s objectives. Risk management can be qualitative or quantitative, depending on the approach used to evaluate risks. In this article, we will focus on the qualitative approach to risk management and the use of the industry standard 5X5 risk matrix for qualitative risk analysis. We will also discuss TRM Advantage, a risk management online application that uses the 5X5 matrix for risk assessment.

What is the 5X5 Risk Matrix?


The 5X5 risk matrix is a tool used for qualitative risk assessment. It consists of five levels of likelihood and five levels of consequence. The likelihood represents the probability of a risk event occurring, while the consequence represents the severity of the risk event’s consequences. Likelihood and consequence range from very low to very high, and each level is associated with a descriptor that helps to define the level.

Benefits of the 5X5 Risk Matrix


The 5X5 risk matrix is popular among risk management professionals because of its simplicity and clarity. It provides a balance between not enough and too much detail on each axis, which makes it easy to understand and use for risk assessment. Having fewer than five levels is too little granularity to get a solid understanding of likelihood and consequences while having more than five levels does not effectively refine likelihood and consequence values but does generate more group debate. 5X5 is generally thought of as ‘just right.’

Another benefit of the 5X5 matrix is when developing and calibrating the level descriptors for the matrix. Each risk is examined from different viewpoints or aspects. Each aspect of risk, such as Safety & Environmental, Cost, Quality, and Corporate, must be standardized and communicated to a group. The level descriptors are used to pull everyone towards the same interpretation. Without clear level descriptors, everyone will use their ‘gut feel,’ and almost nobody will see things the same. It can become very difficult to generate agreement and/or explain to senior management why a specific risk level was assigned.

Projects and Business Schedule Risk

The simplicity of a 5X5 matrix is hard-wired into TRM Advantage. By providing a clear and concise understanding of what each likelihood and consequence level means, the differences between them become apparent. This leads to a better understanding and more informed and effective risk management strategies, which ultimately help organizations to better manage and mitigate their risks.

Because there are 5 likelihood and consequence levels to choose from for each risk, the matrix contains 25 cells. The cells are used to generate the overall risk ranking.  When a likelihood level and consequence level have been determined, the matrix cell where the two levels intersect is selected. Depending on where the cell is located, it results in a risk ranking of either critical, high, medium, or low.  The risk rankings are entered in the register. 

As risk mitigation steps are completed, the likelihood and consequence levels are reduced.  This changes the risk ranking. In some situations, circumstances may cause an increase in either likelihood or consequence levels. This may result in an increased risk ranking. The risk register must be updated when the risk ranking changes.

Customizing the 5X5 Matrix


TRM Advantage provides a completely flexible 5X5 framework for likelihood and consequence assessment. The descriptors for each level are fully customizable to your industry and/or project. In larger organizations, it is suggested that key aspects such as Safety & Environment, Quality, and Corporate should have their levels standardized throughout the organization. Cost levels are reasonably variable – a $1,000,000 consequence on a small project may be critical, but a $1,000,000 consequence on a $10,000,000,000 project may not be considered critical. Cost levels are reasonably situational.

TRM Advantage: Risk Management Online Application


TRM Advantage is a risk management online application that uses the 5X5 matrix for risk assessment and generates risk rankings of critical, high, medium, and low. It allows organizations to assess and evaluate the probability and consequence of potential risks, allowing organizations to prioritize risk mitigation efforts based on their level of severity. TRM Advantage helps organizations to make informed decisions about how to manage their risks and minimize the consequence of risk events.

The application simplifies risk assessment sessions, meetings, and risk management overall. Having an application to help manage the risks and associated data is essential for success. TRM Advantage provides a user-friendly interface that supports organizational efforts to create, manage, track, and mitigate their risks.

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