A heat map is a two-dimensional representation of data in which values are represented by colours and can be designed from being simple to very complex. It is important to carefully design the heat map so that the terms used to describe “potential impact” and “likelihood” are what is used in your organisation.
In the risk assessment process, visualization of risks using a heat map presents a big picture, holistic view to share while making decisions on the likelihood and impact of entity-wide risks within an organisation.
When a heat map is used in workshops to assess the risks by individual managers, the discussions can be enhanced for they can see how risks in one part of the organisation impacts another part of the organisation. The resulting heat map can also be used to communicate the risk assessment to senior management, audit committees and boards of directors. The heat map also enables a business conversation on mitigation alternatives.