Planning meeting lays the foundation for a successful iteration. All key stakeholders must be present in a Planning Meeting and offer active participation. In addition to the commitment discussions, are you talking about risks in this meeting? If not, you must read this post.
Risk Adjusted Backlog
An Iteration or Sprint Backlog isn’t complete without risks. Risks must be considered because they have the potential to take the iteration off track. There are several types of risks including people, product, technical or even organizational. A conscious effort must be made to talk about these risks and plan to manage them.
Risk Identification and Planning
Use the following blueprint to identify and plan for potential risks to the success of your iteration.
#1 Go round the table and Identify the Risks
Normally the planning meetings run for a day at the start of an iteration. Reserve at least an hour to identify and discuss about the potential risks.
Consider doing this activity between the User Story Elaboration by Product Owner and Task Breakdown by Team Members. This makes it possible to reserve enough time in the iteration to manage the risk situation, if necessary.
- Encourage all stakeholders in the meeting to identify risks and prepare a list
- No risk, however small or insignificant , is ignored at this stage
- The idea is to put everything possible on plate to be discussed further
- A good duration for this activity is about 15 minutes.
#2 List down Risks and Qualify
Once a good list is obtained, qualify the risks by assigning a Probability and Impact.
Probability is the chance of it happening
For example, the impact of a Server Data Loss is ‘Very High’ but if stringent backup procedures are in place, the probability is ‘Very Low’.
But, receiving huge number of bugs from a recent Production release has both ‘High’ probability and impact.
#3 Quantify the Risk and Narrow down the Focus
For each Risk Item, arrive at the Risk Score by multiplying the probability and its impact.
If Probability of Receiving Huge number of Bugs = 0.7And its Impact on the Iteration (scale 1-10) = 8
Then Risk Score = (0.7 * 8) = 5.6
If there are many risks, agree on a cut off score with the team and consider only risks above this point for planning. For example, you may agree to plan for risks above a Risk Score of 7, while keeping the rest in view.
#4 Plan for the Risk Response and Reserve the Time
Help the team to brainstorm and identify response strategies for risks with a high score. Common strategies fall under one of these categories:
- Mitigate, where some proactive steps are planned to counter the risk
- Avoid, by taking an alternate path thus escaping the risk
- Accept, by deciding to face the risk when it turns into an issue and not take any proactive steps
- Transfer, where the risk response is bestowed upon another party outside the team
Make sure that the estimates for risk response is included in the iteration. If the risks don’t happen, the reserved time can be used to pickup bonus work for the iteration. So nothing is lost!
#5 Regularly Watch the Risks
Now that the risks are considered, review them on a regular basis and discuss any changes with the team. Also, consider new risks as they emerge.
- Risks have the potential to disrupt or even destroy the outcome of an Iteration
- Identify potential risks, quantify them and plan the risk response strategies in planning meeting
- Team must decide which risks must be actively planned for and those to be kept in view
- Scrum Master must make sure that the Risks and their Impacts are constantly monitored
- Don’t ignore low value risks and constantly review them for changes
- Consider new risks as they emerge
Do you discuss about risks in your Planning Meeting? What are the strategies your follow? Share it as comments here and we would love to hear from you.