Performing an assessment
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Structure of the process
The risk assessment work has six phases. The work during a particular phase is always built on the results of the previous phases. The phases are not clear-cut periods in time, because the work is iterative in nature, and the previous phases must frequently be revisited when the development of the product and feedback brings in new understanding. Thus, the next phase is usually started when the previous phase is still a draft at least in some aspects.
The phases of risk assessment are called:
- Scoping of the assessment. In this phase the purpose of the assessment, the question(s) asked in the assessment, intended use of the output, the temporal and spatial boundaries of the scope of the assessment, and the participatory width of the process are defined and described.
- Applying previous information about the issues being assessed. In this phase the existing information that is available e.g. in the encyclopedia, as existing variables from previous assessments, or as Classes (general properties shared by a group of variables) are sought out and applied.
- Drawing a causal diagram. In this phase the decisions, outcomes, and variables of importance related to the assessment are described in the form of a sketch of a causal network diagram.
- Designing variables. In this phase the variables included in the assessment (the causal network diagram) are described more precisely, including defining causal relations between them. This phase may also include definition of quality criteria and plans for collecting the necessary data or models to estimate the results of the variables. It should be noted that previously this phase was considered to apply to the assessment as a whole. Now we have realised that in practice the design work happens separately for each variable (although usually approximately at the same time). The same applies to the next phase, execution.
- Executing variables and analyses. This phase is actually about collecting the data needed, executing the models described in the Definition attributes of different variables, and storing the results in the result database. Assessment-specific analyses such as optimisation, decision analysis, value-of-information analyses and so on are carried out.
- Reporting In this phase, the results of indicators and assessment-specific analyses are communicated to the users of the outputs. The results are discussed and conclusions are made about them, given the scope of the risk assessment. The communication includes necessary background information.
The phases 1-3 are collectively called the issue framing phase. D↷
The list consisting of six phases of risk assessment process has been created by combining the views from the Intarese appraisal framework and the assessment process description in guidance and methods for indicator selection and specification, also originally produced for Intarese project D↷, through several discussions in different situations involving several people from e.g. Intarese, Beneris, and Heimtsa projects.