Monday, December 31, 2012

Project schedule risks & best practices

In his book, Steve Mc Connell has made a useful compilation of project mistakes

From this list he compiled the top 10 project schedule risk and the means of controlling them such as:
  • Feature creep (never ending requests from customer for new/change features): change board, design for change, incremental development
  • Requirement gold-plating (wasting time to polish features while the added value of the extra efforts is minimal): scrub requirements, time boxing, cut the feature list based on time/cost limit
  • Over optimistic schedule: multi estimation (e.g. ask estimate from several people), negotiate the schedule, cut the feature list
  • Silver bullet syndrome (a fallacy that a software/methodology can solve everything): be sceptical of claims, measure/test the software.
  • Short charged quality: allow time for QA (review/test) activities
  • Inadequate design: have explicit design activity, schedule time for design, design review
  • Contracting failure: check references, access the contractor ability before hiring
  • Weak personnel: hire top talents, training, teambuilding
He compiled also a list of best practices based on their efficacy (reduce schedule, reduce risk, increase progress visibility) such as reuse, outsourcing, time boxing, evolutionary delivery, prototyping, top 10 risk list.

One of the interesting best practices is the "top 10 risk list":

1. make list of project risks (e.g. feature creep, the personnel with required skills is not on board, the external party hasn't deliver their interface/WSDL specification)
2. rank the list based on the risk exposure = probability occur * impact on schedule e.g. 20% * 2 weeks = 0.4
3. risk monitoring: update the ranked list periodically (e.g. weekly) with resolution and status.

Rank this week
Rank last week
How long this risk has been in the list
4 weeks
The personnel with Oracle SOA skills has not been acquired.
Hire an external consultant. We're expecting to have the resource on board in the week 22.
The hiring budget has been approved last week. This week we're starting with interviewing candidates.

The illustration below interestingly describes different options for risk resolution:

Any comments are welcome :)

Source: Steve's blogs


Rapid Development: Taming Wild Software Schedules by Steve McConnell

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