Risk Management

05/10/2008

We are all intuitively aware of the risks that we face in projects. We know them only too well as often we are the ones to deal with them when they come to light.

As developers we want to duck for cover when a new feature gets added as a great new idea and "we'll work out the details later".

As project managers we get suspicious when a developer says "if we just upgrade to version x" it will be all fine.

As the project team, we want to run and hide when the Sales Manager tells the client "sure we can have it done in 6 weeks".

We talk about what we know is going to be a problem after the meeting, over coffee, at drinks after work. We know when a project is going to be problematic, when the timeframes are unreasonable, when the feature doesn't make sense.

We know this in our hearts. But what do we do about it? Most often, the answer is not enough. And that's not because we don't care or don't want to, it's because there's rarely a formal approach that we can use to raise awareness of risks and get something done.

Risk management has been a problem in traditional software management for a long time and it’s no different in ez publish project. In some respects it’s even harder as often we are dealing with content that doesn’t exist But it's not that hard, there are only two goals we are trying to achieve with risk management.

  • Take action to minimize risk

  • Raise awareness so that if things do go wrong, we avoid the blame game

The rest of this article covers in detail what's involved in risk management and how to apply it to eZ publish projects. Much of the material is based on the Risk Toolset created by Rob Thomsett of Thomsett International.

Risk management isn't a complex task, but it is a tricky one as it's rarely good news. But, it does act to avoid unrealistic expectations and provide a clear understanding of the true nature of the project. It helps to avoid the surprises that can derail a project and cause untold grief. When it comes to risk management, it pays to be paranoid and avoid problems than to take the "she'll be right attitude" as much as sometimes we'd rather ignore it and hope that it doesn't happen, because if you do, you can pretty much guarantee something will go wrong!