Strategy and Risk Assessment


There is a very important relationship between the project development strategy, the development length, your team size , and the risk (see next chapter) of the project. In general, the higher the risk of the project, the more likely strategies such as fast track and hybrid would be used. Generally, with a team size of greater than five to seven people, the project would have to use one of the variations of the release or hybrid strategies.

It's Counterintuitive

It is in the nature of many people that, when faced with a risky project, their inclination is to be conservative in approaching the choice of strategy. It is counterintuitive, but the higher the risk of the project, the more risky your strategy should be. In other words, for a high-risk project, the best strategy is either fast track or hybrid. Think of your project as a bed of hot coals. Would you rather walk slowly or run over the coals?

Figure 11.9 shows the suggested relationship between the risk of the project (see next chapter), team size, duration, and project development strategy. The table should be treated as a guide only, as there may be projects where the specific nature will require a particular strategy. For example, the use of the monolithic strategy should be avoided for large projects. However, the ultimate choice of strategy is dependent on the business drivers of your project.

Figure 11.9. A guide to strategy selection


As a final note on strategy, it is important to recognize that IT and other professionals have tended to keep the strategy analysis and selection hidden from their business clients. This is partly due to the use of strategy as a mechanism for managing changes in project requirements (see Part 3). By opening up the process of strategy analysis and selection, you will find that your business clients and stakeholders will have a better understanding of their project and some of the options available to them.

The P Files Episode 8: The One-Minute Manager

We were asked to address a senior management team (including project directors) in a major telecommunications company. Their CEO had mandated that all projects would use a RAD strategy of 6 x 6. That is, all projects had to be partitioned into components that could be built by six people in six months. The senior management wanted us to give them some ideas on how to get this to work, as they did very large projects and the 6 x 6 arrangement wasn't working very well. We made the point that, although we agreed with the concept, our experience with extreme projects was that the sponsors often were unavailable for quick decisions. This leads to serious delays in projects. It would certainly compromise rapid delivery. To deliver projects in 6 x 6, we recommended that senior management adopt a 1 x 1 sponsor model. What we said was, "If senior management want 6 x 6 delivery, the project manager must be able to see his or her sponsor in one minute and get a decision in one minute." The project directors all agreed. The senior management looked at us in a strange way. We weren't invited back. The company continues to see its share price drop and its turnover rate increase.

The P Files Team Comment

Strategy is about culture as much as it is about projects. It is not acceptable for senior management to fall in love with a new development fad such as RAD, agile, or object-oriented without understanding how the new model affects their role in projects. All strategies have their strengths and weaknesses and all strategies impact the project management process.

Case Study ”Select Project Strategy

Although you have not completed a formal risk assessment with the stakeholders, you and the RAP participants decide that a sequential release strategy is suitable for the project.

Edwina agrees that there will be three releases:

  • Release 1: The complete functionality working in City 1 only.

  • Release 2: The new system working with access in each city restricted to Smuthe consultants .

  • Release 3: Big Bucks clients have complete access.

She wants to test the waters first. Kim is happy with the strategy, as it enables her to ensure the quality is acceptable before external clients get access. It also enables you to train the Smuthe consultants.

Sliders Revisited ”eXtreme Project Management in Action

Based on the quality agreement and the selected strategy, Edwina revisits the success sliders and agrees to ease off on the time frame.


Radical Project Management
Radical Project Management
ISBN: 0130094862
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2002
Pages: 136
Authors: Rob Thomsett

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