Transitioning to Agile / Scrum from PMBOK – Risk management

Many adopt agile/scrum as a solution to their organizational issues, especially technical deficit, and low commitment to work. This is a very wrong thought. One of the organizations I visited recently is adopting scrum, because the team is unable to meet the deadlines. The root cause for this could be unrealistic estimation, and irrespective of the model one uses (iterative, waterfall, scrum,xp) this problem will persist, because it is a capability issue, not a scrum issue. I got into all these in order to drive the importance of risk management in agile. Risk management is key to the project’s success in agile, and the scrum master has a major role to play. Some of the key risks pertaining to agile implementation (not mentioning the software engineering risks) are;

Improper definition of the business case for agile
Lack of organizational support
Lack of support from the product owner
Lack of faith of scrum master in scrum
Lack of clarity of the product backlog
Organizational politics
Fear of exposure by the non performers
Fear of exposure by the control freaks who does not have the contributing capability
Fear of performance appraisals

This is a partial list. One needs to identify, prioritize, plan responses and contingencies and implement them. The PMBOK steps of risk register, qualitative risk analysis, quantitative risk analysis, risk response planning, contingencies planning are all valid in the agile world as well. The risk management capability of the scrum master is very important for the success of scrums.

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