Risk Assessment in Software Development Project: Part 2 – Tips and Samples

I realized some explanations and sample describing the risk assessment approach in my previous article would be absolutely lovely -

Why is Test Task impact 0.75 – 0.9 on the feature and not 1?

Can we release a software without end-to-end verification or testing? YES ! Yes we can. It is not the smartest idea and I know my QA team is going to have a long and serious talk with me when they read this, but seriously let us look at the fact: this is not the primitive world of software development anymore. Developers indeed do some unit testing and validation. What are you actually losing when you release a software without extensive testing: there is a very strong probability that you have rouge code running wild with your permission and certification on it. But for a moment if you just think about it, if the code does not really have major flaws then what are you losing if you don’t do testing. NOTHING ! I say SHIP IT ! All that is being said here is that lack of extensive test coverage should NOT be considered as ship blocker. sorry my QA people, I agree that your work is equally important as the developers’ but it is just that “some are more equal than others (?!)” ;)

A fork out of this principle would be his one project that I worked on where testing and product release is essentially all that was to be done. The original product was already baked and already out in the market functioning successfully. We just decided to release it through a different storage medium (Application Compatibility and Device Compatibility scenario-s of software development falls into this category). So testing was very crucial to figure out to figure out release medium compatibility. In that project I treated testing as a P0 item.

How do I tell how much of the task is actually done?

Measuring how much you finished can be a very subjective call based on the engineer or the task owner. I personally like to break all the tasks into mini-tasks none of which are spanned more than a day or two. In that way when you check for status at the end of the day it becomes a yes-or-no question about whether you finished it or not. Much easier to figure out how much of your umbrella task or feature is yet to be completed.

Sample Calculation for Risk Assessment

A project that is NOT at a high risk

Project Breakdown Original Estimate Completion% Remaining days of completion Probability of slipping schedule Feature’s Impact Task’s Impact Risk on the task Risk on the Feature
P0 features
Feature-1 on schedule $1,000,000 0
Task-1 4 50% 2 0 1 0
Task-2 5 40% 3 0 1 0
Feature-2 on schedule $1,000,000 $250,000
Task-3 3 70% 1 0 1 0
Task-4 4 50% 2 0 1 0
Task-5 5 40% 2 0.333333333 0.75 0.25
P1 features
Feature-3 ahead of schedule $100,000 $0
Task-6 3 100% 2 0 1 0
Task-7 4 75% 2 0 0.75 0
Feature-4 way behind 0 $100,000 $112,500
Task-8 3 20% 1 0.583333333 1 0.583333333
Task-9 4 10% 1 0.722222222 0.75 0.541666667
Feature-5 some-what behind $100,000 $36,666.67
Task-10 3 50% 1 0.333333333 1 0.333333333
Task-11 4 40% 2 0.166666667 0.2 0.033333333
Task-12 5 60% 2 0 0.1 0
P2 features
Feature-6 20,000 21481.48148
Task-13 3 10% 1 0.62962963 1 0.62962963
Task-14 4 10% 2 0.444444444 1 0.444444444
Feature-7 Soft-start 20,000 7604.166667
Task-15 3 0% 2 0.333333333 1 0.333333333
Task-16 4 20% 3 0.0625 0.75 0.046875
Feature-8 No even started 20,000 0
Task-17 3 0% 3 0 1 0
Task-18 4 0% 4 0 0.4 0
Task-19 5 0% 5 0 0.4 0
Task-20 4 0% 4 0 0.1 0
Total Risk on the Project $428252.3148
% of the capital 42.82523148%

(Low Medium Risk)

As you can see most of the numbers I chose indicate that the project is almost half way (in terms on timing at least). The reason is I find it more credible to start doing the risk analysis sometime during half-way check point rather than earlier. (We all know what happens in the first couple of days … let’s not go there).

Note that, unless you have load-balancing planned out for your developers and testers, consider a negative value in a tasks risk as 0. Basically I am assuming that if you finish your product ahead of schedule you don’t necessarily get any extra money. If you are ahead of schedule for a task or better if you completed it, you are not *in Risk* of slipping schedule.

A project at a brink of extinction

Project Breakdown Original Estimate Completion% Remaining days of completion Probability of slipping schedule Feature’s Impact Task’s Impact Risk on the task Risk on the Feature
P0 features
Feature-1 $1,000,000 $625000
Task-1 4 20% 2 0.375 1 0.375
Task-2 5 20% 3 0.25 1 0.25
Feature-2 $1,000,000 $1,269,444
Task-3 3 40% 1 0.444444444 1 0.444444444
Task-4 4 20% 2 0.375 1 0.375
Task-5 5 0% 2 0.6 0.75 0.45
P1 features
Feature-3 $100,000 $25,926
Task-6 3 10% 2 0.259259259 1 0.259259259
Task-7 4 50% 2 0 0.75 0
Feature-4 $100,000 $112,500
Task-8 3 20% 1 0.583333333 1 0.583333333
Task-9 4 10% 1 0.722222222 0.75 0.541666667
Feature-5 $100,000 $41,666.67
Task-10 3 50% 1 0.333333333 1 0.333333333
Task-11 4 40% 2 0.166666667 0.2 0.033333333
Task-12 5 20% 2 0.5 0.1 0.05
P2 features
Feature-6 20,000 $21481.48148
Task-13 3 10% 1 0.62962963 1 0.62962963
Task-14 4 10% 2 0.444444444 1 0.444444444
Feature-7 20,000 $7604.166667
Task-15 3 0% 2 0.333333333 1 0.333333333
Task-16 4 20% 3 0.0625 0.75 0.046875
Feature-8 20,000 0
Task-17 3 0% 3 0 1 0
Task-18 4 0% 4 0 0.4 0
Task-19 5 0% 5 0 0.4 0
Task-20 4 0% 4 0 0.1 0
Total Risk on the Project 2103622.685
% of Capital 210.36%

(Very High Risk)

The bottom line about risk assessment is that these are all just numbers “TRYING” to predict the future. Just because you are in a low risk situation does not mean things won’t fall apart. A huge volcano eruption might happen exactly where you live, if that is the case your project might be the least of your concern. Or say your project is in a super high risk for failing but may be you have been a good kid the whole year and Santa saves you! Just saying …

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3 thoughts on “Risk Assessment in Software Development Project: Part 2 – Tips and Samples

  1. Pingback: Risk Assessment in Software Development Project: Part 2 – Tips and Samples | Mindfulness

  2. Risk management scenario you have shared is really awesome. This strategy will definitely help in better task management in software development process. I will forward this information to my friends. I am sure that it will be useful for them in managing their tasks.

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