Risk Management Meaning Analyze Evaluate And Avoid CrisisMoss Drake and I are in the process of putting together the finishing touches on our workshop at PNSQC this year on Agile risk management. Our workshop, titled Managing Uncertainty and Risk in Agile Software Projects, is on Wednesday, October 19.

Risk is a weird entity. Many equate risk with uncertainty but they aren’t the same – we are uncertain about many things, but they are not necessarily risks. Risks come about when you have a negative outcome with a probability greater than zero, but there are many types of negative outcomes and corresponding risks.

If you have an outcome that is disastrous or catastrophic, then any probability of such an occurrence that is greater than zero should be weighted heavier and deserve more attention than the number itself.  For Agile risk management, this could be project cancellation or lack of funding. In worldly terms, this could be a meteor that hits Earth and a cloud of dust that blocks the sun. In real life, grim as it sounds, you crash in your car and die. That negative consequence does exist even if we don’t like to think about it. Or maybe if we did think about it, perhaps we’d behave differently not only in how we drive, but in how we live our lives.

Other characteristics of a negative outcome include the cumulative effect, recovery capability, and response. Does the negative outcome compound itself and add on to previous injuries? Or do you recover and move on as if it never happened? If one team member fails to complete their task or if one part of the technology stack becomes infeasible, does that have a cumulative effect greater than the negative outcome itself? Is that negative outcome interdependent on other outcomes?

In our Agile risk management workshop, we’ll take these types of risks in the context of managing an Agile project from start to finish. We’ll then come up with techniques to analyze what type of risk is being encountered and, based on that, what type of response is required.

Catch Moss Drake @mxmoss and Phil Lew @philiplew on Twitter.