Risk management is an imperative part of any business operation. Stakeholders need to ensure maximum ROI, and the teams behind each project yearn for success and uniqueness. Investing in dedicated teams would be greatly helpful in ensuring the success of a project. But there could be problems in achieving milestones and risks that should be mitigated. This article deals with risks associated with dedicated teams, and how they can be alleviated.
There is always a market demand for skilled tech professionals, and often, the need surpasses market capacity. There are mainly two different kinds of IT professionals - the in-house team and the outsourced team. The outsourced team can be a dedicated team and is often the most common among modern IT outsourcing models. Companies ranging from small startups to MNCs rely on dedicated engineering teams to improve their workflows and deliver critical products on time.
The dedicated team model will have a specific duration, especially when it’s long-term projects, but this could be adjusted when the demands of the project change. And the client always monitors whether the team delivers according to the project timelines. However, in spite of the precautions taken, there is a risk of things not happening according to plan.
This is why every company should follow a strong risk management culture. By keeping notes on the organization and by learning from your past projects, you can keep the risks to a minimum, but that might not always happen. Having a strong risk management culture is important to the success of every project. In this article, we will examine some of the best ways to incorporate a risk management plan for dedicated teams.
Incorporate a risk management protocol consisting of a certain set of standard tools and templates to help you each time you start a new project. You can even convert what looks like disadvantages into advantages and move ahead with the project without losing time.
One of the most obvious strategies would, of course, be identifying the risks. It is the process of understanding the problem areas that could potentially threaten the success of the project, thereby hampering the company from achieving its goals. The risks could be external or from within the project.
Brainstorming regularly with your team would help you identify where the risk factors lie. Now, the strategy that you should create in order to make this word would be the risk registry. There are risk register templates available online. Using them you can attain consistency in work, treat and manage risks. Make sure the registry is in a tabular layout to enable you to see all the risks quickly. This would be useful to the stakeholders as they don’t take kindly to weaving through lengthy documents to identify what the risks are.
Include all the risks in the risk register, with inputs about the nature of risk, the level of seriousness, the source of risk and measures to counter the risk.
Once the potential risk areas are identified, it would be a good idea to follow the DTRM concept, or the Dedicated Team Risk Management concept. As per this concept, you have to regularly assess the situation to control the risks arising during the software development project. Form a list detailing the kind of risks that could arise while going through each stage of the project, and monitor when the stage is actually reached. Periodic progress assessments must be done to ensure no more risks happen along the way.
One of the biggest obstacles that stand in the way of a successful project is most definitely the lack of communication among team members. Make use of tools that can facilitate communication among team members like Trello, Slack, ActiveCollab, etc. If you are a project manager, keep in touch with your team constantly through these tools, and maintain friendships with the members so they would be inspired to communicate whenever they face any sort of problems.
Software management risks may arise from poor hardware, tension infused working environment (caused as a result of communication breakdown), low effectiveness of programming and so on. Even if team communication progresses rapidly, there would be a disruption when a new member comes. That’s also another reason for management risk.
The new member might be slow in getting used to the team and might make mistakes. The team manager must act as the mediator between the new members and the rest of the team, and ensure that everyone stays on the same page. There will be a testing period or a cooling-off period during which the team manager and the team get to know each other, so the newcomers get to identify the pulse, and relate to it.
Apart from the risks within the company, there are risks that arise from external sources. One of the most common fears every software developer has is the obsoleteness of their product. It could take months to create a product, so what happens when, by the end of the time period, that particular period is no longer in demand? That's an utter waste of time, money and resources, right?
The best solution for this would be hiring business analysts. They perform a market analysis to know what’s currently happening, and based on their analysis reports, changes in the existing project can be made. In certain cases, the manager might collapse the project, leading to huge financial loss to the company. External risks are often too difficult to predict, when compared to internal threats. The risks from the external side can be alleviated to an extent if you give some sort of allowance in the project plan to account for unexpected emergencies. Inform the client also, so their deadlines do not hang in balance.
Having a motivated team on the project is a blessing. People might have the skills, but if they are not motivated enough, their contributions to the project won’t have the required results, leading to a gradual loss of the team’s productivity. Some team members might get sick, they might take maternity leave or resign altogether. Ensure there are two specialists at all times, so one can take the place of the other and the project goes on.
Working with a reliable Managed Services Provider would help you solve this problem, so you can scale the team whenever required. Before allocating tasks for a project, understand the team’s eagerness in deciding the project, and then decide on the team. Once the team for the project is decided, the manager can rotate tasks in different scrum iterations so there would be novelty around.
The risks with distributed infrastructure systems will vary with resource sharing, clusters, a network of workstations and so on. This is because people could be working from anywhere on the planet. Quality of service, transparency, openness (the extent to which the system is designed to support interoperability), synchronization of multiple systems can all be affected. A working strategy to mitigate the risks associated with distributed infrastructure systems can be done in the following manner:
Following the above-mentioned techniques can improve traceability and foster transparency during ongoing system updates.
Financial difficulties that arise could lead to other software development issues. Correct financing is important to avoid those risks. Following the agile software development process could be a solution to this. In agile, the unpredictability of financial input is included. Correct and controlled financing is the only way to curb the issue because, with new feature implementations, testing and bug fixing costs will mount. Put the project in the right frame through wise financial distribution to control the costs. Advice the client to have reserve funds so the project wouldn’t suffer.
ProRisk is an open framework that can help with risk assessment. Containing multiple templates and risk management principles (to help manage the process of software) that you can use at will; these are perfect for any kind of medium-large scale projects.
Not informing the stakeholders of any movement in the project can be a crisis in itself. The stakeholders could be managers, clients, other employees, shareholders and sometimes, government organizations and supervisors. Earlier we mentioned that communication is paramount to the success of the project, so involving the stakeholders is an important component in risk management. Define the priorities and identify potential issues and exchange information on new or emerging risks in the project. Sometimes, key stakeholders can have an excellent understanding of the project constraints and risks and may even provide suitable information from their industry (an insider viewpoint).
Software development teams work with their project managers to proactively identify risks and plan for contingencies. Identifying macro risks is also important. For example, Citibank has branches all over the world. They have risk management plans for each country pertaining to the local issues and culture. And then, they have a mix of global and local risks that could be unique to each location. This way, they look at the risks on a micro and macro level. This proves that looking at the risks on a micro and a macro level might be greatly helpful.
At the start of a project, you can follow the simple steps below to strategize and come up with best practices for alleviating risks:
Risk identification is the primary step in risk management. Identify the risks the projects could run into, inform the stakeholders right from the beginning. The sources of risk could arise from anywhere, so it is an iterative process in itself. Throughout the lifestyle of the project, new risks will be identified and mitigated. For example, if you have a workforce problem, you will not have the required number of skilled talent available for the project. And this would affect your deliverable. To mitigate these problems, you need to have staff with top talent, build a credible team, perform key personnel agreements and cross training.
Make a thorough analysis of the risks identified during the first stage, categorize them and analyze them on the basis of how they could jeopardize the project. There could be technical glitches involved, arising from geographically distributed teams, bad tools and complete integration. Take all those into account. Consider the potential losses they could have to the project and their severity. Categorize them into high impact risks and low risks, as the severity of risks can affect the budget as well.
In risk mitigation, you take preventive measures to reduce the occurrence of the risks and the impact of risk whenever that happens. The project manager might even hire an expert to identify the risks and manage the risks, for high-risk activities. In certain scenarios, you can prepare the test results in advance to start testing the first versions of the project and set tough parameters. This would flush out the risk areas, especially the technical and operational risks.
After risk mitigation, comes the last important step - Risk Monitoring. This activity keeps track of the risks that have been identified and mitigated, evaluates residual risks and even monitors new risks. It also keeps tabs of the strategies used for identifying, evaluating and mitigating the risks, and the effectiveness of the strategies themselves. Risk monitoring also includes business response plans and making evaluations of their usefulness and purpose.
Every project team should have an alternate method in accomplishing a project goal when they are faced with a risky situation. This is contingency. Making changes to the schedule and taking alternate routes can even help you deliver the project on time. Identifying high-risk projects and allocating contingency budget would help solve the problem faster than ever.
Risk management should be part of the planning process. Figuring what can go wrong and how to control the risks indeed calls for experience, and the strategies mentioned above are certainly ways in which you can do that. Potential risks can be analyzed, and if they turn into realities, they can be categorized into issues that need evaluation and mitigation. This way they don’t become critical issues.
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