Using Agile to Effectively Manage Risk

Why Agile is the safest way to manage risk for digital products

When it comes to building digital products, many risks need to be considered. Using the three constraints of project management: time, cost and scope — you often have to compromise one or more of these using the traditional project management framework. However, when using the agile framework, you have more flexibility.
Scope is Agile's flexible lever. This means managing risk can be mitigated often to a manageable state.
Let's take a look at some examples as to what agile has to offer for risk management challenges.

Risk is shared working in a team

Using agile, risk is built into scrum roles, artefacts, and events. Additionally, when your team are working in a cross-functional workflow it then allows testers and developers to work along-side each other. Enabling them to work together and not apart.
Every time the team take items from the product backlog and commit to the sprint backlog, they are making a commitment to drive that work through to completion. 

Technical requirements are considered:

  • Technical skills, tools and improvements can be adopted in a good definition of done. The right testing, validation, documentation etc. can reduce the technical risk.

The team is accountable for their work:

  • Tracking and visibility of the project improves because as the team is building the project, there are opportunities to inspect, adapt and reflect on the project on a daily basis. Having these time-boxed opportunities enables the team to respond to change quickly in an ‘Agile’ way.
  • The development team embraces the agile values of openness, collaboration, continuous improvement. And that all boils down to collaboration. No other framework stipulates this

Risk is managed each step of the way

Risk is reduced when using the Agile framework and methodology because you have the opportunity to inspect, adapt and continuously improve getting feedback early reduces risk to a manageable state.This is because you are consistently planning and evaluating progress through an agile mindset lens. We are able to change and adapt more easily.

Photo by John Moeses Bauan on Unsplash

Customers get full transparency

Customers prefer the Agile framework because they get the opportunity to provide feedback early, so the development team can take feedback on board and adapt accordingly.
Customers understand the product backlog is ordered taking into account priority, risk, learning, business value, effort etc. Therefore the Sprint Backlog will be contain new features, innovation, refactoring and support. In the end this will result in a stable, reliable product and therefore a happy customer!
Customers that embrace Agile, become more engaged in the process. They are not passive stakeholder but active participants. 
They are part of all the Agile events; because you work with the development team to create the product vision and work on the backlog together. You attend the sprint review, where you will actively ask questions, inspect the product and help adapt it along the way.

Customers are empowered to become active product owners, the more seasoned and knowledgeable they become, the more valuable they are because you know the product and organisation well and can mandate decisions swiftly.

Agile allows for greater control

And finally, agile allows for greater —and even finer control over what is delivered, when and to what scope. Constant planning means that priorities can be revalued at any time and scope adjusted as needed and budgets and timelines more easily managed.  
The best way to reduce risk in general is: build potentially releasable increments for users.

What do you think?

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