Risk matrices can be used effectively based on thorough hazard/threat assessments and asset analyses. These inputs can provide granularity and rigor to the risk assessment process and help to ensure that risks are accurately characterized and prioritized.
It is essential to recognize that risk matrices are just one tool in the risk management toolkit, and they should be combined with other techniques to provide a more comprehensive understanding of risks.
For example, threat or hazard assessments can inform likelihood ratings. Asset analysis, such as business impact levels (BILs) can provide valuable context and detail to inform consequences.
Some of their strengths as a tool for risk assessment and management include:
Visualization: Risk matrices provide a clear, visual representation of risks, making it easier to understand and compare risks.
Prioritization: Risk matrices can be used to prioritize risks based on the likelihood and impact ratings, which can help organizations focus their efforts on the most significant risks.
Stakeholder engagement: Risk matrices can be a useful tool for engaging stakeholders and promoting discussion and collaboration around risk management.
Consistency: Risk matrices provide a consistent and standardized approach to risk assessment, which can help organizations consistently and objectively evaluate risks.
Simplicity: Risk matrices are relatively simple to use and understand, making them accessible to a wide range of stakeholders.
It is essential to understand that risk matrices have many limitations also. They should only be used where appropriate as a part of a comprehensive risk management process rather than relying on them exclusively to make decisions.
Risk management experts understand that risk matrices are not perfect, nor are they worse than useless, as some people might argue—just a tool. And like any tool, you need to understand its weaknesses to get the best out of it. The same can be said for a circular saw or the scientific method. RIsk matrices, like any tool, are most useful in the hands of an expert who understands their limitations and strengths.