Five Simple Steps to Agile Risk Management

If You Like To Gamble

(flickr: Sven Hein)

This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.  (Winston Churchill)

Background

In my post on Agile Project Charters I outlined the embarrassingly high failure rate of software projects. Success rates today are only marginally better than they were when the Standish Group released its first Chaos report in 1995. Recognizing the tremendous misalignment between project expectations and project results, a variety of tools and methods have evolved to help improve the odds of success. Chief among them is Project Management methodologies. Even with fifteen years of experience combined with improved software development tools and better methods, software project success rate have eked out only marginal gains. This is not a vilification of project management methodologies. Rather, it is a statement that software development is an inherently and increasingly complex undertaking with many uncertainties. With Risk Management, we attempt to identify the things we don’t know (the uncertainties) and quantify them so that they can be managed. This sounds like a paradox – how can you quantify what you don’t know- but it is a paradox we can manage.