The Risk management competency

Risk management is integral to the successful completion of construction projects. What do APC candidates need to do to demonstrate the competency?


  • Ewan Craig

25 February 2021

Risk management should be seen as integral to good practice in construction, as it will reduce uncertainty and help fulfil project objectives.

To achieve the competency of Risk management on the Building Surveying pathway, you will need to draw on several different technical competencies, including Construction technology and environmental services, Contract administration, Design and specification, and Legal/regulatory compliance. You will also need to use appropriate techniques to identify, eliminate, mitigate or manage risks across a project's life cycle accurately and successfully.

The requirements for this competency by level are briefly explained as follows.
  • At Level 1, you should demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the nature of risk and, in particular, of the risks associated with your area of business or practice.
  • At Level 2, you should provide evidence of applying knowledge to carry out risk assessments, taking into account all relevant factors. You should also show that you understand how to apply the various methods and techniques used to measure risk.
  • At Level 3, you should provide evidence of having given reasoned advice and implemented systems to deal with risk through competent management of specific projects.

Assessment question

You should be familiar with the risk management issues on projects and convey this in your APC submission documents and experience examples, being ready to address interview questions on them and on related matters.

Actual questions for final assessment will be based on a candidate's experience, which should be at Level 2 but could exceed this.

Given the time constraints of the APC, your answer should be brief but comprehensive. Care should be taken to demonstrate your own skills, abilities and knowledge to the assessors.

A sample answer at Level 2 is given below; your answer should explain the issues pertinent to your specific experience.

Q: Please explain your application of risk management in building the new, mixed-use commercial block Z.

A: The project included demolishing an existing building, clearing the site and building the new block and car park. The client was familiar with construction projects, and appointed a client-side project team that I was part of.

My role included preparing the risk register, a key document in identifying, controlling and managing risks. I held 2 risk workshops with the stakeholders to prepare the initial register early in the project. I used checklists and idea generation methods – such as risk breakdown structure, the Delphi technique of soliciting expert advice, and cause-and-effect diagrams – to help identify project-specific risks, their impact, and possible outcomes, as well as gaining insight into their likelihood and extent.

Although risk is often regarded as a threat, it is properly understood as an uncertainty. As a result, I found that some uncertainty could lead to opportunities to improve, for example, the procurement strategy, innovation or the schedule. I also developed the register to describe the risks, their causes and consequences; their presence in each project stage; and the parties responsible for the management of each risk.

I worked with the project team and stakeholders to quantify each risk's probability and potential impact, in terms of schedule, cost or quality, as well as how it might be mitigated, and the identity of the party responsible, accountable, consulted or informed.

The risk register was presented in a spreadsheet and, as a live document, was updated as the project proceeded, becoming more accurate as assumptions could be confirmed and data improved.

Risks were reviewed regularly and at the gateways from one stage of a project to the next, when the register was updated as risks arose, changed or failed to materialise. Some risks did materialise, and because they had already been identified and could be proactively managed, this improved the confidence of the client and project team in the risk management regime.

An example of an identified risk that materialised was the discovery of buried asbestos. The contractor, designers and schedulers minimised the impact on the project by reviewing the building design and reducing the building footprint to the affected area. The contractor and scheduler maintained the overall schedule by altering the construction sequence with the remediation carried out in parallel to works elsewhere on the site. The cost of the remediation was covered through the sum for risk in the project budget.

I found the application of risk management in dealing with the buried asbestos and other managed risks was important in achieving the project's budget, quality and schedule objectives, and so aided the project's overall success.


Related competencies include: Contract administration, Legal/regulatory compliance, Risk management

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