If you are carrying out an R&D project, the unexpected will happen, which is why you will need a risk register. This is a useful tool in the management of any project. If you are receiving grant funding, it will probably be a part of the required documentation to be supplied to the funding body.
Risk management is about planning for things which might not happen. Things which may cause a hold-up, but which you already know about (perhaps a key team member has booked extended leave for part way through the project), should already be incorporated in the project plan.
Some measures of a successful project are that the timings, quality and budget meet the set targets. Your risk planning should take a good look at what could go wrong (optimism has no place here); how you can reduce the risk or impact of predictable difficulties; and what you can do when things go wrong. The risk register should contain the answers to all three of these questions.
This is not an exhaustive list: there are likely to be additional risks unique to your industry or project.
If your risks have become issues, or the unexpected has happened, tell your funding body sooner rather than later. In the area of risk management surprises are never a good thing, and a funding body which is kept informed of issues as they arise is more likely to be sympathetic than one which has been kept in the dark.
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