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Risk Management: Five Signs Your Project is at Risk

For nearly thirty years, a research company called The Standish Group has been preparing an annual paper called The Chaos Report, which surveys thousands of companies about the success of their software projects. The results of these surveys have been consistent for the past few years. Roughly 40% of projects are deemed successful, roughly 40% are deemed to be challenged in some way, while a full 20% are described as failures. This last figure is that one that should alarm project managers—all other factors being equal, there is a one-in-five chance that our projects will fail outright.

Based on findings from The Standish Group and other sources, following are some of the common signs that your project is at risk of failure.

No Executive Sponsorship

Executives control the budget, have the influence to clear organizational blockers, and can facilitate inter-departmental communication. Executive sponsorship is crucial to project success. If there is no executive sponsor assigned to a project, or the assigned executive seems uninterested in the project, then the project is at great risk of failure.

Poor User Involvement

Users must be involved with the project from the earliest possible stage. They are able to give essential “real world” feedback on the work the development team is doing and have the expert knowledge required to resolve critical problems. Poor user involvement is highly correlated with project failure. It is common practice these days to have a dedicated product manager serve as a proxy for the users. This is a good approach, so long as the product manager is a Subject Matter Expert with strong ties to the end-users.

Short-Changing Quality Assurance

It is extremely tempting to “short-change” quality assurance, especially when a project looks like it is going to miss an important milestone. This could involve reducing the number of quality assurance staff assigned to a project or reducing the amount of time they have to test. In environments with highly automated QA, this might involve reducing the amount of automated test coverage or tweaking down the success thresholds. If these things are happening in your project, the risk of failure is increasing.

Poor Staff Focus

Staff need the necessary skills to complete the project but that in itself is not enough. Staff also need to be given the priority and time to focus on the project. All too often, staff are allocated to a project but they have significant “trailing responsibilities” that follow them from prior projects. A staff member allocated full-time to a project may only end up working on it part-time due to these responsibilities. This also commonly happens with maintenance and support duties. Line and operational managers frequently under-estimate the amount of time these duties actually take up, and there is often pressure on them from senior management to do so.

Inadequate Risk Management

There is an increasing recognition in industry about the benefits of project risk management, and this has been supported by a significant amount of academic research. Major project management methodologies (such as PMP and Prince2) include risk management as a core practice, as do common governance standards. Despite this, risk management is either ignored or given lip service only in many organizations. Not surprisingly, inadequate risk management greatly increases your project risk. Conversely, a strong risk management process can help you address all of the items on this list and more.

Risk Register by ProjectBalm

Adequately managing risk is much easier with a suitable tool. This is one reason we created Risk Register by ProjectBalm.

Our goal was to automate best practice risk management techniques, and do so via an elegant, usable interface that works with you, and not against you. Risk Register will help you to identify, analyse, treat and monitor risks more easily and effectively than ever before.

If you are experienced at risk management, you will find in Risk Register a tool that works the way you want it to work. If you are new to risk management, our documentation and videos will take you through the whole risk management process, giving lots of useful examples.

Risk Register is fully compatible with risk management standards such as ISO 31000, and can also be used for governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) programs such as Sarbanes-Oxley and PCI. And, of course, Risk Register allows you to easily distinguish between opportunities and threats.

ops and risks.PNG

Over the last few years, we've grown to become the most popular risk management solution in the Jira marketplace and we are now an Atlassian Platinum Partner. Why not try out Risk Register by ProjectBalm for yourself?



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