Preston Smith's Corner

How can we accelerate the risk management process for accelerated projects?

May 2005 Quick Tip

Conventional project risk management, as described in our book, Proactive Risk Management, can be time-consuming, especially for fast-moving projects. We recently faced this problem in an agile software development project, which had to produce a new, working version of the software every month. With 30 days to deliver a product, you can’t afford to take days to pass through the conventional risk management process – it must be done in an hour or two.

You can accelerate the process by greatly simplifying the risk analysis and prioritization steps. Rather than filling in the complete risk model and prioritizing your risks quantitatively, as the conventional process requires, simply have the team prioritize the risks using their perception of which risks are most serious. Then you can plan actions against your most serious risks.

Although such a radical shortcut would be dangerous for most projects, it works for an agile project because it exploits three characteristics of such projects:

  • Short (one month) iteration cycles, which makes forecasting risks much easier over such short periods
  • Frequent (monthly) opportunities for reassessment, which minimizes the effect of any errors in perception
  • A close-knit, co-located team, which has intimate knowledge of the project and thus is in a strong position to appreciate its risks

You can learn more about this technique by reading our recent article, “Agile Risks/Agile Rewards.”

Can you find similar characteristics of your projects that you can exploit to accelerate managing their risks?

(c) Copyright 2013 Preston G. Smith. All Rights Reserved.


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