How to Manage Risk within Agile Management - dummies

How to Manage Risk within Agile Management

By Mark C. Layton

Agile methodologies, when implemented correctly, inherently reduce risk in product development. Developing in sprints ensures a short time between project investment and proof that the product works. Sprints also provide the potential for a project to generate revenue early on. The sprint review, the sprint retrospective, and the product owner’s involvement during each sprint provide constant product feedback which helps prevent deviations between product expectations and the completed product.

On agile projects, you prioritize the highest-value and highest-risk requirements first.

Scrum teams use existing agile artifacts and meetings to manage risk. Scrum teams also wait until the last responsible minute to address risk, when they know the most about the project and problems that are more likely to arise. The table shows how scrum teams can use the different agile project management tools to manage risk at the right time.

Agile Project Risk Management Tools
Artifact or Meeting Role in Risk Management
Product vision The product vision statement helps unify the project team’s
definition of product goals, mitigating the risk of
misunderstandings about what the product needs to accomplish.

While creating the product vision, the project team may consider
risk on a very high level, in conjunction with the marketplace,
customers, and organizational strategy.

Product roadmap The product roadmap provides a visual overview of the project’s
requirements and priorities. This visual overview allows the
project team to quickly identify gaps in requirements and
incorrectly prioritized requirements.
Product backlog The product backlog is a tool for accommodating change within
the project. Being able to add changes to the product backlog and
reprioritize requirements regularly helps turn the traditional risk
associated with scope changes into a way to create a better

Keeping the requirements and the priorities on the product backlog
current helps ensure that the development team works on the most
important requirements at the right time.

Release planning The scrum team discusses risks to the release and how to
mitigate those risks. Risk discussions in the release planning
meeting should be high-level and relate to the release as a whole.
Save risks to individual requirements for the sprint planning
Sprint planning The scrum team discusses risks to the specific requirements and
tasks in the sprint and how to mitigate those risks. Risk
discussions during sprint planning can be done in depth, but should
only relate to the current sprint.
Sprint backlog The burndown chart on the sprint backlog provides a quick view
of the sprint status. This quick view helps the scrum team manage
risks to the sprint as they arise and minimize impact by addressing
problems immediately.
Daily scrum During each daily scrum, development team members discuss
roadblocks or impediments that may be or become risks to the
project. Talking about roadblocks every day gives the development
team and the scrum master the chance to mitigate those risks
Task board The task board provides an unavoidable view of the sprint
status, allowing the scrum team to catch risks to the sprint and
manage them right away.
Sprint review The scrum team regularly ensures that the product meets
stakeholders’ expectations. The sprint review also provides
opportunities for stakeholders to discuss changes to the product to
accommodate changing business needs. Both features of the sprint
review help manage the risk of getting to the end of a project with
the wrong product.
Sprint retrospective The scrum team discusses issues with the past sprint and
identifies which of those issues may be risks in future sprints.
The development team needs to determine ways to prevent those risks
from becoming problems again.