Use Expected Monetary Value (EMV) to Determine Risk Impact

Expected monetary value (EMV) is a risk management technique to help quantify and compare risks in many aspects of the project. EMV is a quantitative risk analysis technique since it relies on specific numbers and quantities to perform the calculations, rather than high-level approximations like high, medium and low.

EMV relies on two basic numbers.

P – the probability that the risk will occur

I – the impact to project if the risk occurs. This can be broken down further into “Ic” for the cost impact, “Is” for the schedule impact and “Ie” for the effort impact.

The risk contingency is calculated by multiplying the probability by the impact.

Risk Contingency Budget

If you use this technique for all of your risks, you can ask for a risk contingency budget to cover the impact to your project if one or more of the risks occur. For example, let’s say that you have identified six risks to your project, as follows.


Risk P (Risk Probability) I (Cost Impact) Risk Contingency P*Ic
EVM calculation Example
A ۰,۸ €۱۰٫۰۰۰ €۸٫۰۰۰
B ۰,۳ €۳۰٫۰۰۰ €۹٫۰۰۰
C ۰,۵ €۸٫۰۰۰ €۴٫۰۰۰
D ۰,۱ €۴۰٫۰۰۰ €۴٫۰۰۰
E ۰,۳ €۲۰٫۰۰۰ €۶٫۰۰۰
F ۰,۲۵ €۱۰٫۰۰۰ €۲٫۵۰۰
Total €۱۱۸٫۰۰۰ €۳۳٫۵۰۰


Based on the identification of these six risks, the potential impact to your project is €۱۱۸٫۰۰۰٫ However, you cannot ask for that level of risk contingency budget. The only reason you would need that much money is if every risk occurred. Remember that the objective of risk management is to minimize the impact of risks to your project. Therefore, you would expect that you will be able to successfully manage most, if not all of these risks. The risk contingency budget should reflect the potential impact of the risk as well as the likelihood that the risk will occur. This is reflected in the last column.

Notice the total contingency request for this project is €۳۳٫۵۰۰, which could be added to your budget as risk contingency. If risk C and F actually occurred, you would be able to tap the contingency budget for relief. However, you see that if risk D actually occurred, the risk contingency budget still might not be enough to protect you from the impact. However, Risk D only has a 10% chance of occurring, so the project team must really focus on this risk to make sure that it is managed successfully. Even if it cannot be totally managed, hopefully its impact on the project will be lessoned through proactive risk management.

Spreading the Risk

The risk contingency budget works well when there are a number of risks involved. The more risks the team identifies, the more the overall budget risk is spread out between the risks. In the case above, the fact that there are six risks helps pool enough risk contingency to accumulate a protective budget. If you have only identified one or two risks, you may not be able to spread the risk out enough to be as effective as you like.

Budgeting for Unknown Risks

The EMV calculations above only reflect the risks that are known at the beginning of the project when the initial risk assessment is performed. If you are managing a large project, you need to continue to monitor risks on an ongoing basis. Therefore, you can also ask for additional risk contingency budget to cover risk that will probably surface later that you do not know about now. For example, you could request an additional 5% of your total budget for risk contingency to cover the unknown risks that you will encounter later. This is in addition to the risk contingency of the known risks that have already been identified.  

At TenStep, we can help you implement solid risk management processes as well as a full set of project management processes. Contact Menno Valkenburg or Dick van Schoonhoven for more information and to discuss your specific needs.