No project is free of risk; that’s the first among lessons to be learnt. Secondly, risks and opportunities go hand in hand. Taking a risk may lead you to better results.
Escaping risks is not a luxury that you should seek in a software project. Mitigate risks and grab the opportunity to better the project’s performance. Naturally, the first step is to identify the risks.
The best way to learn about software risks involves analysing similar projects among other to-do’s. You may infer from the hurdles which individuals encounter in the midst of a project.
There is surely a long list of factors under the risk taxonomy of software projects. But we have observed and compiled a few risks that are regularly (or frequently) associated with the projects:
Operational discrepancies – Team-level fall outs
Operational incompetency in the teams involved in a project is a risk that can be curbed internally. At the same time, operational inefficiency is extremely difficult to handle once it goes out of control.
Major risks that make a project sloppy:
- Resilient attitude towards change, be it the work environment or control factors
- Clashes between employees
- Hostile approach towards the team, project or organization
- Inefficient communication and lack of cooperation between departments
- Neglecting the completion date and other deadlines of a project
Project managers are integral agents for dealing with team-level and operational fallouts.
Sometimes, project deadlines can be so generously set that employees tend to take their tasks lightly until the eleventh hour. A proactive project manager can handle such an issue by assigning job roles, chopping up tasks systematically, and creating internal timelines and milestones to make progress through the project.
Managers should ensure that they have the aptly skilled and motivated team for the project. Project heads also have the responsibility to acknowledge employees for their efforts. This duty should be considered seriously, as rewards and recognitions are observed as a great driving force and leveraging factor for the team.
Create efficient and error-free communication by using tools and mediums for cross-functional staff units. Interact, engage and collaborate with enthusiasm to escape disputes.
Now, operational discrepancies at the management level
We have witnessed the doom of big-league software ventures due to inefficient and erroneous management.
We know that heading a software project is no child’s play. The management need not learn to code and programme, but should be fully educated and informed about the dynamics and requirements of a specific project.
Managerial flaws usually responsible for the downfall of a software project:
- Inadequate support for the team
- Inability to control attrition amongst the management or the team handling the project
- Interrupting a project by taking away resources from a dedicated team for organizational restructuring or for shifting organizational priorities
- Unsettled work environment
- Reliance on external vendors for core supplies
- Letting go of valuable assets holding critical knowledge and information
Such errors of the management can derail or defer the project.
Take necessary actions to avoid project disruption of all sorts, be it switching to a better supplier or providing deserving increments to retain critical resources. The project should be among the top priorities of an organization.
Moreover, information shouldn’t be withheld by one or two employees. Encourage sharing of critical information among a greater number of trusted employees.
Get to the bottom of problems. Communicate with employees and their team heads to learn about the requirements and supplies essential for the project.
Bad consequences caused by a bad action plan
Generating a clear project plan is absolutely vital for the accomplishment of a software project. Here are some factors that have been noticed to go wrong when setting an action plan for the project:
- Unspecified, vague or changing project objectives
- Undefined project goals and success criteria
- Incorrect or inadequate system requirements
- Incomplete project specifications
- Unachievable project deadlines
- Poorly defined processes
- Tasks and requirements not prioritized
- Unclear task allotment and risk ownership
- Limited user participation in understanding project requirements from the customers’ perspective
Promising quick delivery is a recurring mistake that both, managers and project leaders tend to make. Well, people working in the software industry know that the development process uncovers variable facets that were initially unknown. The exact roadmap for creating any software is hard to predict. Once coding begins, programmers come across insufficient and conflicting results.
This unpredictable nature of software projects complicates the estimation of a project deadline.
The best you can do is get your project-specific team and experts together. Create a clear project plan with phases and you may address any issue right there. Do involve your users in defining the project plan. Ultimately, your aim is to satisfy user requirements.
Lack of preparation, skill, training and technology
When you are picking a team for a software project, make sure each individual is the right owner of the job role. We have seen software projects fail due to the following reasons as well:
- Poorly trained employees in a team
- Incorrect recruitment for specialized tasks
- Unfamiliarity with the technology that needs to be used for the project
- Tools that your employees are not well versed in
- Not keeping track of project status
- Deficit of team members
- Underestimated project budget
- Lack of experience in the team
- Lack of domain knowledge
- Lack of interpersonal skills to hold the team together
If the requirements are understood clearly, half the problems get solved.
Adequate training for specialized skills, specific to the project, should be provided without fail. Convenient tools, technologies and working environments put employees at ease and make them work quicker.
A perfect team is not necessarily one that comprises highly-skilled people only. It is a team with a blend of experience, skill and innovation that makes a project successful.
There is another set of risks that are external, but you have very little to do with them. User behaviour and market fluctuations are some of them. The ones mentioned in this article are most-often found and controlled within organizational boundaries.
intrude software projects time and again. Now, it’s time to expose and combat them!
Ameera Tabassum is an ACCA Affiliate. She has diversified experience working as Business Process Consultant for an Audit solution company in the Uk. She has over 4 years of experience in ERM risk solutions and as a practicing manager of Business analysts successfully executing several projects in terms of Risk management strategies, enterprise risk solutions and Governance risk compliance.