Project Plan > Risk List

Release Information

Internal Release Number: X.Y.Z
Related Documents:
Risk Management during Requirements by Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister
Taxonomy-Based Risk Identification by Carr, Konda, Monarch, Ulrich, and Walker (SEI)
Process impact: This document records the major project risks, and plans to control them. For each risk the plan should include:
Mitigation plan
Measures you will carry out now, to reduce the likelihood and/or impact of the risk. Alternatively, you can decide to accept the risk.
A sign you will monitor to determine if the risk is beginning to have an impact on the project.
Contingency plan
What you will do if the risk does arise. You can specify some general contingency plans. In this case you only need to give a contingency plan if you have a special one for the particular risk.
The severity of a risk is its likelihood multiplied by its impact. Risks are classified as minor if they have low likelihood, negligible impact, or medium likelihood and marginal impact.
TODO: You should update these lists regularly. They should be reviewed by customers and developers from time to time.

General contingency plans

Catastrophic risks
If a catastrophic risk occurs we will make an honest reassessment of the viability of the project and involve the relevant project stakeholders.
If a catastrophic risk occurs we will cancel the project. We will take away our lessons learned and any valuable project bi-products.
We do not recognize any catastrophic risks. If one occurs we will pretend everything is fine and hope that none of the stakeholders notice.
Risks that consume development resources.
The project has a fixed deadline. The requirements are prioritized. If we lose time, we will reduce project scope.
The features specified are all essential If we lose time, we will delay delivery.
If we lose time, we will make time estimates for the remaining features, and meet with the customers to reconsider scope and delivery date.

Major risks

Name Description Likelihood Impact Plan Status Owner
Requirements Requirements are only partly known at project start. Customers may not allocate sufficient resources to exploring requirements. Medium Critical to Catastrophic Requirements will be detailed first for the top priority goals. Indicator: Track the rate at which requirements are discovered. Contingency: request more customer effort. Amber Requirements Lead
Goals Stakeholders goals may conflict. Medium Critical Keep an explicit list of stakeholders goals. The project manager will report progress to each declared goal. Green Customers
Communication Communication problems in development team. They are dispersed among several sites, and have not worked together before. Medium Critical Use these tools to help communication. The main indicator of miscommunication will be software defects detected by our QA activity. Green QA lead
Acceptance Customer may accept delivery of the system although it does not really meet their goals. Medium Critical Customers are asked to declare acceptance criteria as each release is planned. Green Customers
Scope The total features requested may be beyond what the development team can deliver in the time available. High Marginal Assign levels of important to the use cases. Make the first review of project scope after 12 months. Green Customers

Minor risks

TODO: Review this list regularly, to decide whether the likelihood or impact of a risk has increased to make it a "major" risk.
Name Description Likelihood Impact Mitigation Strategy Status Owner
Estimate The development team might not be able to estimate the work time, preventing customers from deciding priorities effectively. Medium Marginal The development team will gain experience in estimating the work, and deliver the first estimates after 12 months. We will compare estimated work to actual work. Green Project Manager
Retention Some developers may leave the project before it is finished. Medium Marginal Employing locations should provide support for continuing professional development. The project manager will discuss career goals with each developer, and try to assign tasks appropriately. Green Project Manager
Correctness The system as delivered may have low take-up because of a lack of confidence in its correctness. Low Catastrophic State of the art QA activity. Contingency: stop development of new facilities until the quality of the existing code is assured. Green QA Lead
Usability The system as delivered may have low take-up because of poor usability. Low Critical We will have a UI style guide. Most of the development of the front end will be in close contact with customers. We will review usability later in the project. Green UI design lead
Desire The stated requirements might not match the customers' desires and ambitions for the system. Low Critical Incremental delivery of versions will provide experience of using the system, which will help the customers to identify the real requirements. Indicator: a developer saying "I think they mean ...", a customer saying "They know what I mean". Contingency: request customer review of requirements. Green Customers
Changes After requirements have been documented and agreed, development activities begin to based on them, first design then implementation. If the requirements change later then effort is wasted. Low Critical A change control procedure is required, so changes are only made when the cost is worthwhile. Indicator: compare cost of change to new development. Contingency: request customer review of requirements. Green Project Manager
Process Some developers may not cooperate in common standards and processes. Low Critical QA to check conformance, then discussions in development team meetings to change the standard or the actual practice as appropriate. Green QA Lead
Maintainability The system as delivered might be hard to maintain. Low Marginal We will review the code for maintainability. Green Lead Developer
RISKNAME ONE-TO-THREE-SENTENCES Low | Medium | High Negligible | Marginal | Critical | Catastrophic ONE-TO-THREE-SENTENCES Red | Amber | Green PERSONNAME

Possible risk status values:

Active & impacting project
Active but contained without impact to scope or delivery time.
not yet active

Risk Checklist

Do the plans provide an indicator to detect each of the risks becoming active?
Yes, if all activies are carried out as planned, we will know if any of the risks is becoming troublesome.
No, some risks could creep up on us.
Are the right "risk owners" assigned to monitor the risks?
Yes, for each risk the assigned owner can detect the indicator, can launch the contingency plan, and is the person who will suffer by the risk.
No, in some cases the assigned owner may not notice or care, or does not have sufficient authority.
Does each risk have a mitigation strategy, or is the risk acceptable?
Yes, we have plans to control each risk.
Yes, we have plans to control some risks, and have accepted others.
No, this plan leaves open several risks.
Does each risk have a contingency plan?
Yes, most risks cost development time and the general plan applies, and for each of the others there is a contingency plan above.
No, there are some risks we still have to plan for.
Has this Risk Control Plan been communicated to the development team and other stakeholders?
Yes, this document is being posted to the project website. It will also be discussed at an early team meeting, and discussed with the customers before the commit to the project. Comments are welcome.
No, our culture does not allow discussion of risks.
Is there a procedure in place for identifying new risks and reviewing the existing ones?
In the light of these risks, is the project worth carrying out?
Yes, it is a low risk project
No, other projects can deliver as much value at lower risk.
Yes. It is an unusually risky project by commercial standards, but we believe we have adequate plans here, considering the value that the project could deliver.
Is there an anonymous reporting channel, to allow developers to communicate concerns to senior management?
No, everything depends on the alertness and strength of character of the project manager.
TODO: Check for words of wisdom and discuss ways to improve this template. Or, evaluate the ReadySET Pro professional risk management template.
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