Monday, May 20, 2013

Waltzing with Bears : Managing Risk on Software Projects by Tom Demarco Chapters 1 to 4 Reflection

Reflection on Waltzing with Bears : Managing Risk on Software Projects by Tom Demarco Chapters 1 to 4
Link to sample Chapter 1 from Waltzing with Bears

Link to Waltzing with Bears Textbook Download

Chapter 1, "Running toward risk" starts off with describing what should be your attitude towards risks. There is no project without risks. And the best way to deal with risks is to accept them instead of avoiding risks. Once you accept the risk, you can work on a risk management strategy.

Chapter 2, "Risk Management Is Project Management for Adults" presents examples of risk management and risk mitigation. We all do some sort of risk management or mitigation in our daily lives. Insurance, for instance, is a classic example of risk mitigation by transferring the risk of financial loss to the insurance company and obtaining coverage for a monthly premium in the event of an accident or a health problem. Tom Demarco discusses the phases of risk management which start with
  1. "Risk Discovery" - identifying all possible risks through brainstorming
  2. "Exposure Analysis" - quantification of each risk in terms of its probability of materializing
    and its potential impact
  3. "Contingency Planning" - what you expect to do if and when the risk materializes
  4. "Mitigation" - steps that must be taken before transition in order to make the planned
    contingency actions possible and effective when required
  5. "Ongoing transition monitoring" - tracking of managed risks, looking for materialization

Chapter 3, "Denver International Airport Reconsidered" talks about the project to build a new Denver International airport to replace the existing one, Stapleton Airport. Stapleton was judged incapable of expansion, inadequate to serve the growing city, and guilty of contributing to ever-more-evident noise- and air-pollution problems. With the new airport, costs would be reduced, pollution and air-traffic delays would be eliminated, and growth would be assured. The new Denver International Airport (DIA) was scheduled to open on October 31, 1993 and everything for ready except for the software DIA Automated Baggage Handling System (ABHS) due to which the airport could not open.So much blame was laid on the software team that even today, the phrase "DIA Automated Baggage Handling System" is a recognized symbol of incompetent software projects. Later analysis found that there was little or no risk management at the DIA project. Had there been a risk management strategy adopted earlier on in the project, a delay in the software delivery would have been identified as a significant risk.

Chapter 4, "The Case for Risk Management" presents the importance of risk management for even the smallest projects. What the software industry can learn from the DIA example is the potential cost of not managing risk. Risk management is a way to break the grim cycle of failed projects by providing a set of meet-able goals and schedules and engendering successful projects that look and feel successful from beginning to end.

1 comment:

  1. Risk management attempts to plan for and handle events that are uncertain in that they may or may actually occur. These are surprises. Some surprises are pleasant. We may plan an event for the public and it is so successful that twice as many people attend as we expected. A good turn-out is positive. However, if we have not planned for this possibility, we will not have resources available to meet the needs of these additional people in a timely manner and the positive can quickly turn into a negative.