The Art of Agile Development: Risk Management

Book cover for “The Art of Agile Development, Second Edition” by James Shore and Shane Warden. Published by O'Reilly. The cover has a large sticker on it that says “Early Release: Raw and Unedited.” The cover artwork shows a water glass containing a small sapling. The sapling has small green leaves. There is a goldfish in the glass.

Second Edition cover

The second edition of The Art of Agile Development is in development! Visit the Second Edition page for information about the open development process, how to get the Early Release, and more!

in 99 words

Risk management allows you to make and meet commitments.

Manage common risks with risk multipliers. Manage project-specific risks by brainstorming disasters and their causes. Create mitigation and contingency plans for serious risks and define unambiguous triggers for taking action.

Combine risk multipliers with project-specific risks to project your chances of meeting commitments, and report those probabilties as "commitments" and "stretch goals." Lower your risk and improve projections by including slack in every iteration and getting stories "done done".

Remember that success is more than meeting commitments. Sometimes it's better to delay delivery and create a better product.


Use Risk Management to Make Solid Commitments

Estimate Inflation: A Cautionary Tale

Section Outline

  • Risk Management
  • A Generic Risk-Management Plan
  • Project-Specific Risks
  • Sidebar: Monitoring Risks
  • How to Make a Release Commitment
  • Sidebar: Predicting Release Dates
  • Success over Schedule
  • When Your Commitment Isn't Good Enough
  • Questions
    • What should we tell our stakeholders about risks?
    • Your risk multipliers are too high. Can I use a lower multiplier?
    • We're using a scopeboxed plan, and our stakeholders want a single delivery date rather than a risk-based range. What should we do?
  • Results
  • Contraindications
  • Alternatives
  • Further Reading

Full Text

This chapter isn't online, but you can buy the book.

If you liked this entry, check out my best writing and presentations, and consider subscribing to updates by email or RSS.