The bigger your company gets, the bigger (in dollar amounts) the risks you must deal with. Business continuity relies on the analysis of risks and their impacts. Disaster recovery lends itself to similar investigation to see if your storage area network or your servers have the higher chance of going south (so to speak). Some organisations use risk management software to track everything and manage business risk project by project, as well as at an enterprise project portfolio level. The problem is that commercial software for risk management can be expensive. Does open source software offer an alternative?

As the label “open source” indicates, the source code of the application is available for viewing and modification by anyone holding a license for the application in question. The software license may be offered inexpensively or free, although copyright still applies. Whether or not this helps organisations, especially smaller ones, depends on the usability (user-friendliness) of the risk management application, and possibly on the IT skills within the organisation. Open source applications sometimes lack the slicker packaging of proprietary applications, which is one reason why open source software, although typically less expensive, has not taken over the market.

If expensive commercial risk management applications or technically involved open source risk management software are not your cup of tea, what’s left? Why, the PC spreadsheet, of course! Whether Excel from Microsoft or Calc from Open Office (free!), the humble PC spreadsheet is also a platform for other PC-based risk management apps and plugins. Or you can build your own. You can start very simply with a basic risk analysis table (impact on the vertical axis, probability on the horizontal one, for instance). Then you add in more functionality until you have a risk management spreadsheet that suits you. All in all, that makes the risk management application itself a low-risk solution, which is even better.