Managing Project Risks: A QS Perspective

13th September, 2023

In the dynamic field of construction, project risks are inherent and can significantly impact the success of a project. Risks can emerge from various sources, including design flaws, unforeseen events, financial uncertainties, and inadequate project management. The role of a Quantity Surveyor (QS) becomes crucial in effectively managing these risks to ensure project objectives are achieved within the set parameters. This article will explore the importance of managing project risks from a Quantity Surveying perspective and highlight key strategies that QS professionals can employ to mitigate risks effectively.


Understanding Project Risks


Before delving into risk management strategies, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of project risks. Risks in construction projects can be broadly categorized into three types:


  1. Known Risks: These are identifiable risks that are anticipated at the project outset. They can include market fluctuations, weather conditions, and regulatory changes. Known risks are relatively easier to manage, as they can be addressed through appropriate contingency planning and risk allocation mechanisms.
  2. Foreseeable Risks: These risks are not initially apparent but can be identified through experience and expertise. Examples include design conflicts, subcontractor delays, and resource shortages. Foreseeable risks require proactive measures such as thorough risk assessments and mitigation plans.
  3. Unforeseeable Risks: These risks are unpredictable and can arise unexpectedly during the course of a project. Natural disasters, labour strikes, and economic crises fall under this category. Unforeseeable risks pose significant challenges and often require crisis management strategies to minimise their impact.


Risk Management Process


The risk management process plays a crucial role in mitigating project risks. Quantity Surveyors can employ the following steps to effectively manage risks:


Risk Identification: A systematic approach to risk identification involves analysing the project scope, stakeholders’ requirements, and potential external factors. QS professionals should conduct risk workshops, review historical data, and engage with project teams to identify potential risks comprehensively.


Risk Assessment: Once risks are identified, they need to be assessed in terms of their impact and likelihood of occurrence. This assessment allows QS professionals to prioritize risks and allocate resources accordingly. Tools such as risk matrices and qualitative/quantitative analysis can aid in evaluating risks effectively.


Risk Mitigation: After assessing risks, mitigation strategies need to be formulated. Quantity Surveyors should work closely with project stakeholders to develop appropriate risk response plans. These plans can include risk transfer through insurance, risk avoidance through contract clauses, risk reduction through improved processes, or risk acceptance with contingency plans.


Risk Monitoring and Control: Risk management is an ongoing process, requiring continuous monitoring and control. QS professionals need to establish effective communication channels to monitor risks throughout the project lifecycle. Regular risk reviews, progress reports, and performance indicators can assist in detecting new risks and evaluating the effectiveness of existing mitigation measures.


Cost Estimation and Contingency Planning


One of the critical responsibilities of a Quantity Surveyor is accurate cost estimation. A comprehensive cost estimate should consider potential risks to ensure the project budget remains realistic and contingency provisions are adequate. QS professionals must allocate appropriate contingencies based on the assessed risk exposure. Contingency planning enables effective resource allocation, reduces financial uncertainties, and minimises the impact of unforeseen events.


Procurement and Contractual Considerations


From a Quantity Surveying perspective, appropriate procurement and contractual arrangements play a significant role in managing project risks. The choice of procurement method and contract type can influence risk allocation and transfer mechanisms. QS professionals should carefully consider risk-sharing provisions, dispute resolution mechanisms, and contract terms and conditions to mitigate potential risks. Clear and well-defined contracts facilitate effective risk management throughout the project lifecycle.


Technology and Data Analytics


The advancement of technology has revolutionized the construction industry and provides valuable tools for Quantity Surveyors in managing project risks. QS professionals can leverage Building Information Modelling (BIM) and data analytics to enhance risk identification, analysis, and monitoring processes. BIM enables a holistic view of the project, facilitating early clash detection, improving coordination, and reducing design-related risks. Data analytics can be employed to identify patterns, predict risks, and make informed decisions based on historical data and real-time project information.


Effective Communication and Collaboration


Successful risk management heavily relies on effective communication and collaboration among project stakeholders. Quantity Surveyors should actively engage with the project team, contractors, clients, and consultants to ensure a shared understanding of risks and mitigation strategies. Regular meetings, progress updates, and open channels of communication enable timely risk reporting and facilitate proactive decision-making.


Continuous Professional Development


The field of construction is ever evolving, and new risks and challenges emerge regularly. Quantity Surveyors need to invest in continuous professional development to stay updated with industry trends, best practices, and emerging risk management techniques. Attending workshops, seminars, and obtaining relevant certifications enhances the skillset of QS professionals and equips them with the necessary tools to effectively manage project risks.




Managing project risks is a critical aspect of Quantity Surveying, as it directly impacts the success and profitability of construction projects. Through a systematic risk management process, effective cost estimation, procurement considerations, technological advancements, and collaborative efforts, QS professionals can identify, assess, and mitigate risks proactively. By adopting a proactive risk management approach, Quantity Surveyors contribute significantly to project success, ensuring that projects are completed within the set parameters of time, cost, and quality.

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