Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Internet Project Risks and Mitigation Strategies:

Risk: Personnel shortfalls
Bring on a skilled core team.
Have the team mentor new people.
Make training and teamwork part of the culture.
Hire top-notch personnel while the market remains soft.

Risk: Misalignment with business goals
Align developments with business goals and highlight importance of development.

Risk: Unrealistic customer and schedule expectations
Make the customer part of the team.
Set schedule goals around frequent deliveries of varying functionality.

Risk: Volatile technology
Introduce new technology slowly, according to a plan.
Use technology because it supports business goals, not because it is the latest and greatest thing to do.

Risk: Unstable software releases
Stabilize requirements and designs as much as practical.
Plan to re-factor releases from start.
Don't deliver applications when quality is poor and systems crashes (say "no").

Risk: Constant changes in software functionality
Managing functionality using releases.
Deliver working prototypes before you target new functionality.

Risk: Even newer methods and more unstable tools
Introduce new methods and tools slowly, as justified by the business case, not merely because they are new and appealing.
Make sure methods and tools are of production quality.

Risk: High turnover
Set clear expectations and measures of success.
Make staff feel they are learning, growing, and gaining valuable experience.

Risk: Friction within the team
Staff the team carefully with compatible workforce.
Build team and provide it with leadership.
Manage conflicts to ease friction.

Risk: Unproductive office space
Acquire dedicated workspace for the team.
Appropriate collaboration team.
Lot of space available for meetings and pizza.

Source: "Ten Deadly Risks in Internet and Intranet Software Development", Donald Reifer, IEEE Software, March/April 2002
Methods & Tools - News, Facts & Comments Edition - November 2003

As Internet-based applications are forming a major trend in software development these days, many of these risks are faced by new projects. Some of the risks and the mitigation's strategies have perhaps lost some of their pertinence (like the high turnover for instance), but most of them could still be valuable.

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