Monday, February 25, 2013

Overlooked Risks In Software Development

What software risks are most commonly overlooked or not managed well within your organization? What mitigation strategies would you recommend to lessen the severity of the risks? Do you have any suggestions for how these risks may be prevented/ avoided in the future?

Risk management is vital for software development projects. Software risk management is needed during project execution for control purposes and project planning. It helps to reduce the chances of project failure. The first step in software project risk management is to identify a set of risks and record then in a checklist (Arnuphaptrairong 2011).

Installing mapping system and other large software projects have proved beneficial to organizations. However, the risks involved in such an implementation are huge. The threat of a risk establishes the need for a systematic and aggressive risk management process to make sure the project is a success. The risk management process should address three main risks linked to implementations of big systems- organizational, business, and technical risks. Most people know all about the technical risk and are familiar with how to manage it (Campbell 2001).

Often the other two risks, organizational and business risks are overlooked. However, for the software projects to be successful these two risks must also be measured and controlled. Organizational risk tries to measure the possibility that the client or user will not take advantage of the complete potential of the system.

Resistance to change and insufficient user preparation are the reasons that this could happen. Organizational risk is specific to the organization that develops the project (Nielsen 2009). 
On the other hand, business risk will determine the chances of the newly implemented system failing to result in financial benefits and productivity that have more value that the cost incurred in achieving them in the first place.
This failure could be because of a number of factors. Generally the main cause is that there is no alignment between functions fixed in to the system and the priorities and business strategies of the company.

Changing management initiative, although powerful, can only go so far to mitigate organizational and business risks. We need stronger initiatives that not only involve preparatory training , but also various elements specially designed to make sure that the new system is fully incorporated into the daily operations of all the particular departments, in the specified duration of time.

Thus, operations integration must be performed to lessen the severity of these two risks. The process of operations integration comprises of the information and approaches needed to make sure that the new system delivers the target result within the specified time and budget.
  • In order for this mitigation strategy to succeed, all departments to use the new system must follow the practices in a disciplined manner. Some of the actions that are included in this strategy are as follows:Establish clearly which employees are going to use the new system.
  • Communicate clearly the new system’s corporate goals.
  • Accurately aligning the work processes of the company with the business processes fixed into the new system.
  • Recording the aligned processes in the organization’s manual of Policies and Work Procedures.
  • Providing training sessions for the users so they can understand the work functions of the new system.
  • Developing disincentives and incentives for incorporating the new system into the organization.
It is up to the top management to lead strongly and emphasize the importance of starting operations integration at the very beginning of the project. Consequently, the management needs to make sure that the operations integration process is not led and carried out by the IT department, but rather by the senior manager of the user teams that will be working with the new system.

It is a fact that the development of risk is inevitable. Therefore, it has to be accepted and managed in any software project. However, we must remember that every project will need to manage three risk components- organizational, business, and technical. None of these should be overlooked in order to successfully and efficiently implement a new system.
 
References:
  • Arnuphaptrairong, T. (2011). Top Ten Lists of Software Project Risks: Evidence from the Literature Survey. Proceedings of the International MultiConference of Engineers and Computer Scientists, Vol. 1. Available: http://www.iaeng.org/publication/IMECS2011/IMECS2011_pp732-737.pdf Last Accessed 22nd February 2013.
  • Campbell, M. (2001). The Two Overlooked Aspects of IT Risk Management. Available: http://www.analyticalq.com/published/itriskmgt.pdf Last Accessed 22nd February 2013.
  • Nielsen, D. (2009). Identifying Risks to Software Projects. Available: http://ezinearticles.com/?Identifying-Risks-to-Software-Projects&id=2671133 Last Accessed 22nd February 2013.

Elad Shalom,
CTO at ITweetLive.com

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