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Qualitative Risk Analysis vs Quantitative Risk Analysis

Qualitative Risk Analysis vs Quantitative Risk Analysis

If you enjoyed reading this post, check out all of our post on PMP Concepts Learning Series.

Designed to help those that are preparing to take the PMP or CAPM Certification Exam, each post within this series presents a comparison of common concepts that appear on the PMP and CAPM exams.

Qualitative Risk Analysis vs Quantitative Risk Analysis

Perform qualitative and perform quantitative risk analysis are two processes within the project risk management knowledge area, in the planning process group. Understanding the difference between the two processes may be tested on the PMP, CAPM, and the PMI-RMP exams.

While qualitative risk analysis should generally be performed on all risks, for all projects, quantitative risk analysis has a more limited use, based on the type of project, the project risks, and the availability of data to use to conduct the quantitative analysis.

Qualitative Risk Analysis

A qualitative risk analysis prioritizes the identified project risks using a pre-defined rating scale. Risks will be scored based on their probability or likelihood of occurring and the impact on project objectives should they occur.

Probability/likelihood is commonly ranked on a zero to one scale (for example, .3 equating to a 30% probability of the risk event occurring).

The impact scale is organizationally defined (for example, a one to five scale, with five being the highest impact on project objectives - such as budget, schedule, or quality).

A qualitative risk analysis will also include the appropriate categorization of the risks, either source-based or effect-based.

Quantitative Risk Analysis

A quantitative risk analysis is a further analysis of the highest priority risks during a which a numerical or quantitative rating is assigned in order to develop a probabilistic analysis of the project.

A quantitative analysis:

  • Quantifies the possible outcomes for the project and assesses the probability of achieving specific project objectives
  • Provides a quantitative approach to making decisions when there is uncertainty
  • Creates realistic and achievable cost, schedule or scope targets

In order to conduct a quantitative risk analysis, you will need high-quality data, a well-developed project model, and a prioritized lists of project risks (usually from performing a qualitative risk analysis)


Qualitative Quantitative
risk-level project-level
subjective evaluation of probability and impact probabilistic estimates of time and cost
quick and easy to perform time consuming
no special software or tools required may require specialized tools

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