ISO 9001: How to Develop A Risk Matrix

Delving into the creation and significance of a risk matrix, this post guides you through mastering risk management for ISO 9001 compliance, ensuring your organization's resilience in the face of uncertainties.

In the world of quality management systems (QMS), ISO 9001 stands as a benchmark for excellence. One of the critical aspects of ISO 9001 is risk management, a process that ensures organizations can preemptively identify, assess, and mitigate risks. A key tool in this process is the risk matrix. In this blog post, we'll explore what a risk matrix is, why it's essential for ISO 9001 compliance, and how to develop one effectively.

What is a Risk Matrix?

A risk matrix is a tool used in risk management to visually represent the probability or likelihood of different risks occurring and the severity of their potential impact. This matrix helps organizations prioritize risks and make informed decisions about where to focus their mitigation efforts.

The Importance of a Risk Matrix in ISO 9001

ISO 9001:2015 places a significant emphasis on risk-based thinking. This approach requires organizations to identify factors that could cause processes and quality management systems to deviate from the planned results and implement preventive controls to minimize negative impacts. A well-developed risk matrix is crucial in this context, as it provides a structured and systematic way to evaluate and address risks.

Developing a Risk Matrix: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Identify the Risks

The first step in creating a risk matrix is to identify potential risks. This process involves brainstorming and consulting with various stakeholders, including employees, management, and customers. Risks can be anything from operational, financial, legal, to environmental factors that could negatively impact the organization.

Step 2: Determine the Probability and Impact

Once you've identified the risks, the next step is to assess each risk's likelihood and potential impact. Probability refers to how likely it is for a risk to occur, while impact concerns the severity of the consequences if the risk does materialize. Both aspects can be rated on a scale, for example, from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest.

Step 3: Plot the Risks on the Matrix

Now it's time to plot these risks on the matrix. Create a grid with probability on one axis and impact on the other. Place each identified risk on the matrix based on its probability and impact scores. This visual representation makes it easier to see which risks are the most critical and require immediate attention.

Step 4: Analyze and Prioritize Risks

With all risks plotted, you can analyze and prioritize them. Typically, risks in the high-probability and high-impact quadrant are the ones that need the most immediate attention. However, do not ignore the lower-scoring risks, as they can sometimes be mitigated with simple, cost-effective solutions.

Step 5: Develop Risk Mitigation Strategies

For each high-priority risk, develop a mitigation strategy. This could involve implementing new processes, training, additional resources, or even changing certain aspects of your business model. The key is to reduce either the likelihood of the risk occurring or the impact if it does occur.

Step 6: Monitor and Review

Risk management is an ongoing process. Regularly monitor the effectiveness of your mitigation strategies and review the risk matrix periodically. This is crucial because the risk landscape can change due to new technologies, market conditions, or internal changes within the organization.

Tips for Effective Risk Matrix Development

  • Involve a Cross-Section of Your Organization: Different perspectives can provide insights into risks that might not be immediately obvious.
  • Keep it Simple: While it's important to be thorough, a too complex matrix can be overwhelming and less effective. Stick to a format that is easy to understand and use.
  • Be Realistic: It's vital to be realistic in your assessment of both the probability and impact of each risk.
  • Document Everything: Keep a detailed record of how you rated each risk and the reasons behind these ratings. This documentation can be invaluable for audits and future reviews.
  • Communicate the Results: Ensure that the findings of the risk matrix are communicated across the organization. This helps in building a risk-aware culture.
  • Use Software Tools: Consider using software tools designed for risk assessment and management. These can provide frameworks, templates, and analytics to streamline the process.
  • Continuously Improve: Treat your risk matrix as a living document. Continuously improve and update it as you gather more data and insights.


Developing a risk matrix is a fundamental step in aligning with the ISO 9001:2015 standard. It not only helps in complying with regulatory requirements but also enhances overall organizational resilience. By identifying, analyzing, and prioritizing risks, organizations can focus their efforts on the most critical areas, ensuring stability and growth in an ever-changing business environment. Remember, the goal is not to eliminate all risks but to manage them effectively. With a well-crafted risk matrix, your organization can confidently navigate the complexities of the modern business landscape. Kaiso has an advanced risk matrix built in, so you don't have to think about it.

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