Risk, Tracking, and Project Management Tools

Project management tools available today are awesome. They really do great things for us. But (and you knew a “but” was coming, right?) they seem to all miss the boat in major area.

Product Awesome? Missing the boat?
Basecamp Sooo cool! Boy, howdy
Jira Wow, that’s nifty All kinds of
Ontime Pretty rad Like an aqua-phobic Midwesterner
Fogbugz Absolutely fabulous Toot, toot! Ship has sailed!

So what’s missing?

We can enter tasks. We can enter time. We can mark things as complete, for testing, as a bug, and all sorts of tags. So where in the world is my risk? Where do I know how likely this whole thing is going to go sideways? For that, we are sent back to Excel-land to do on our own.

The prettiest burndown charts and most elegant team velocity calculations really tell you nothing if you don’t have an aggregate view of the upcoming risks on a project. Being on time only means tasks up until now have tracked with or outperformed our expected time frames. Projected delivery expectations give us a great window into the future, assuming all tasks are of the same nature as previous tasks and all risks are held exactly constant throughout the project. Impending doom may be just around the corner, but we march on happily because our burndown chart is tracking better than expected.

Ok, Colonel Needs-a-Lot, what fixes your grim world view?

What risks have been identified for the latest sprint? What deliverables for a given PBI have mitigations in place? Have we accepted a positive risk on an expected outcome for a given number of sprints that may lower our workload? Who knows anything given all I can do is track time and completion.

I’m sure a dozen different one-offs exist for independent risk tracking, but my teams traditionally used one of the above four to manage a project. If only we had a feature set for these that would:

  • Enter a number of risks per deliverable
  • Track what I’ve done for that risk
  • Aggregate the overall risk profile of a given deliverable
  • Aggregate an overall risk profile for a project
  • Suggest user entered mitigations to take based on impact

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Written by mackay on August 10, 2013 Categories: Projects Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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