November 25, 2019 | Web Application
How to Manage Software Development Risks in an Agile Environment?

How to Manage Software Development Risks in an Agile Environment?

Every software development project involves some degree of risk. How enterprises plan to mitigate or prevent these risks will ensure a higher probability of project success. Practicing agile software development addresses many of the risks associated with traditional waterfall environments by concentrating on fast, rapid iterations; however, threats are still prevalent in many agile environments. Often, these risks are a result of project team mistakes, planning errors, failures in process, and unexpected changes as products evolve.

Depending on the nature of the project, these risks can vary, but they can typically fall into five categories. This article addresses each software development risk and how it can be managed to mitigate delays, mistakes, and other barriers to shipping a successful product.

What are the ways to Manage Software Development Risks in an Agile Environment?

What Is Risk?

“Risk is future unknown events with a probability of occurrence and responsible for loss”. Risk identification and management are the main concerns in every software development life cycle.

Efficient analysis of software risks will help to effective planning and execution of work. Every mobile app development project includes some degree of risk. Practicing agile software development marks many of the risks associated with traditional waterfall environments by concentrating on fast iterations. Often, all these risks are a result of project team mistakes, planning or execution errors, failures in process, and unexpected changes as products make progress.

Depending on the nature of the project, these risks can vary, but they can typically be categorized into five categories. This article addresses each software development risk and how it can be managed to mitigate delays, mistakes, and other barriers to shipping a successful product.

Budget Risk: It illustrates the risk of projects going over budget. Budget risk is perhaps the most common risk in software development. Less use of resources especially happens when resources are shared between projects because it becomes difficult to effectively manage such resources and a certain amount of productivity may go waste.

Operational Risk: Risks of loss due to inappropriate process implementation failed system or some external events risks.

Causes of Operational Risks-

  •  Failure to address priority conflicts
  •  Failure to resolve the responsibilities
  •  Insufficient resources
  •  No proper subject training
  •  No resource planning
  •  No communication in the team

Technical Risk: Technical risk generally leads to failure of functionality and performance.

Causes of Technical Risks are:

  •  Continuous changing requirements
  •  The product is complex to implement.
  •  Difficult project modules integration

Productivity Risk: Productivity risk is common in long projects, mainly when deadlines are of the long-term. This environment creates a lack of immediacy and urgency for deliverables.

Time Risk: Time risk is typically the result of poor planning, unrealistic timelines, and the inability to adapt to changing product requirements.

Managing Risks in Agile Software Development

In the traditional waterfall model, risks were usually managed by using project risk management frameworks. Nowadays, there is a kind of lack of formal risk management techniques in agile software development methods.

Agile models claim to be risk-driven.  

Risk management is the discipline of identifying, monitoring and limiting risks. In ideal risk management, a prioritization process is followed whereby the risks with the greatest loss and the greatest probability of occurring are handled first, and risks with lower probability of occurrence and lower loss are handled in descending order.

Effective risk management involves:

  • Identifying the risk
  • Analyzing each risk to determine its exposure
  • Prioritizing the identified risks based on their exposure
  • Creating action plans to deal with the high-priority risks
  • Continuous monitoring and follow-up to ensure that your action plans are mitigating the risks

Risk management (RM) in an agile process is similar to the conventional Risk Management approach with slight deviations. While agile may require the methods of traditional risk management (i.e., risk logs, assessments, or records), there are several ways agile offers solutions for addressing risk. The rest of this article takes an in-depth look at the solutions an agile environment provides to solve the software development risks mentioned above.

Typical Risk Management activities at the project level are as below:

Risk Identification: At the beginning of the project, risks for the project are identified from a broader perspective. A checklist (if created) would be of help in the risk identification process.

Risk Planning: During the planning session, mitigation and contingency plans are put forward for the identified risks. The risk register is created at the project level by the Scrum Master/Project Manager which is referenced by the team as required. This is done at the beginning of the project only. The project Risk register is updated during the project.

Risk Monitoring: All the risks identified earlier are reviewed and monitored between the iterations of the project. Risk Register is updated for the risks which are closed and any new risks that are identified along the way of the project.

Our Approach

Each of our projects has product owners who define and prioritize the backlog of tasks with all information for the development team. The team then goes through the cycle of sprint planning, sprints with daily scrums, sprint reviews, and sprint retrospectives. We know that communication is an important factor in project success, so we make it a point of duty to communicate with key stakeholders regularly via their preferred communication methods. So that they will get to know how sprints are performing and the progress being made on a project. We also keep small teams for projects to limit confusion and complexity in day-to-day processes.

Conclusion

There is a lot of useful information and other details that could be added in terms of specific instruments that could be used to perform the identification, ranking/rated (based on qualitative and quantitative customized indicators) and tracking of risks during the sprints executions.

Even though using Agile methodology reduces risk in early phases of software development, we should also consider the idea that there is a demand to start thinking about making more room to risk management in a more formalized way.

“Risk is idle work, not idle workers” – Ken Rubin

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