A project contains a wide range of RAID’s (risks, assumptions, issues and dependencies) and many of the activities linked to the project may be considered high risk. Quite simply, this is known as project risk or potential problems that might occur throughout the project. Every activity comes with an element of risk that can impact a project. So, for any project manager, it is not just about being aware of the risks; it’s about risk identification, risk monitoring and risk response.
Risks are real when it comes to software development and so, it is imperative that the project manager’s plan incorporates these risks with plans to mitigate the potential impact likelihood damaging the success of the project.
What is Risk?
Essentially, a risk is something that could negatively impact the progress or success of a project. This could cause loss and damage to the business. Risk analysis will help to determine the likelihood and the size of the potential loss.
Crisis management and guesswork will never help to identify risk. Therefore, identifying and noting risk is the only method of being able to capture the likelihood that a project is going to experience unplanned events. This could include schedule delays, requiring more resources and even terminations.
Risk Management in Project Management
Risk management involves managing risk, containment and mitigation. Project managers need to have a plan outlined that prioritize risks, enabling them to be prepared when a risk arises. The process of risk management will require using experience and knowledge from the entire project team to help monitor and update changes in situation.
Risk Management will involve:
- Identifying risks as well as what triggers them
- Classifying and prioritising risks
- Create a plan that associates risks with a solution
- Monitoring to identify risk triggers throughout the project
- Undertaking mitigating action if a risk becomes apparent
- Communicating risk status with team members
Identifying Risks and Classifying Them
There is a wide range of potential risks that can arise during development projects. Experience can count for a lot as this will help project managers to classify risk. It’s vital that the focus is not on the range or elegance of classification but the ability to identify and describe the risks that could hinder the success of a project. Therefore, effective classification is all about arranging the risks and prioritising them in relation to the areas of impact.
There several main risk impact areas that should be identified through the use of a risk register and this includes:
- Technologies that are new and unproven
- User and functional requirements
- The architecture of system and application
Technologies that are new and unproven – New technologies will play a part in all software development projects. With the use of new tools, standards, protocols and even techniques comes risk throughout the process. Therefore, knowledge and training form an important part of the process and using new technology correctly will ensure that project failure is avoided.
User and functional requirements – The needs of the user will be captured by the software requirements and this will include features and functions as well as the level of service. This process is commonly long and laborious while it is very complex. What’s more, it’s common for requirements to change following prototyping, discovery and integration activities. It’s likely that elemental requirements will change during the project while the user requirements will also be modified and therefore, they will not be linked to functional requirements. If a software project is poorly planned then these disruptions can lead to failure.
The architecture of system and application – You can experience devastating consequences as a result of moving in the wrong way with a specific platform, component or architecture. In the same way as risks with technology, the team will need to utilise experts that have experience and understanding of the architecture and can make better decisions.
Performance – A risk management plan will need to cover user and partner expectations based on performance. Therefore, benchmarks must be considered as well as threshold testing throughout the duration of the project as this will ensure everything is moving in the right direction.
Organisational – The outcome of a project might be affected by organisational problems. Therefore, the project management plan must plan to execute the project efficiently ensuring there is a balance between the requirements of the development team and the expectations of the customers.
Risk management is an integral part of software project management and so, ensuring you follow best practices and identify risks as well as containment and mitigation solutions will ensure your project is executed successfully.