Top 5 Risks in IT Projects and How to Avoid Them

Darina Borushko
Digital Content Manager
February 5, 2020

Although the importance of risk management in IT should not be underestimated, for some reason, this aspect of product development often gets overlooked. The thing is that regardless of the complexity of your project, there are always some risks that can result in its failure. To avoid unforeseen situations that can damage the whole idea and reflect badly on the process of its creation, risk assessment is applied. In this article, we are going to point out 5 major project management risks and will provide some helpful information on how to avoid them.  

Top 5 Project Management Risks

While Simplicable identifies 130 project risks that fall into 22 categories, not all of them are very frequent. By and large, there are 5 top risks. These are schedule flaws, increase in requirements, staff turnover, specification breakdown, and poor productivity. Now let’s look at each of them in more detail.

1. Schedule Flaws

The first and most common type of project management risks is associated with scheduling. Because of the unique nature of each project, estimating and scheduling should be very individual, and when this individual nature is neglected, failures happen. Commonly, schedule flaws appear because of the lack of scheduling knowledge, lack of attentiveness to details, the absence of scheduling logic, a lack of milestones, etc. 

2. Increase in Requirements

Quite often, project estimates and timelines can dramatically change because of a customer’s decisions to expand the product’s functionality. For sure, an increase in requirements impacts both the cost and time needed for the development, facing some customers to unexpected expenses and postponing time to market.

3. Staff Turnover

One more reason for delays in product development and release is staff turnover. Sick leaves, professionals leaving the project and the company should be considered as possible risks by the vendor before the project starts.

4. Incomplete Specification

Because specifications provide clear instructions on the intent, performance and construction of the project, the lack of attention to this document can result in huge problems with development. For example, on the stage of integrations, it can turn out that specification contains conflicting requirements

5. Poor Productivity

A lack of employees productivity is often the result of a so-called student syndrome, which means that when people are given a deadline, they tend to wait until the very last moment before starting work.

How to Avoid Risks in IT Projects?

Now let’s see how it is possible to avoid the above-mentioned risks in the most effective manner. 

1. Plan and Estimate to Avoid Schedule Flaws

Effective planning becomes possible with the help of such simple ingredients as involvement and communication. Team members, stakeholders — it’s important to consider the possibilities and expectations of both. As a bonus, involvement will provide more visibility to stakeholders.

2. Build a Strong Communication Link to Avoid Requirements Inflation

It is absolutely ok when a customer decides to add new features in the process of a product development. And, once again, involvement and communication in such situations are crucial. When it comes to rising requirements, it is important to discuss all features, expectations, and estimates with stakeholders at every iteration boundary. The earlier team members will learn about new requirements, the easier for them will be to implement them.

3. Establish a Process of Information Sharing to Avoid Delays in the Development

Collaboration between team members has a strong impact on time needed for development, especially in cases when for some reason, a developer leaves the team. To avoid situations when the project stops because of employee turnover, pair programming, common code ownership, and frequent meetings must be considered.   

4. Use a Dedicated Product Manager to Avoid Specification Breakdown

To ensure that decisions are made on time and that there will be no (or at least less) sobering discoveries on final stages of development, it is important to assign a person or a group of people, who will be ready to answer questions and make decisions on the project.

5. Set Up a Clear Workflow to Avoid Unproductiveness

The process of project development (especially when it comes to huge, long-term projects) should be divided into short, easily manageable iterations. A little urgency could be very helpful, as it does not let the student syndrome to take over the team. 

The Bottom Line

There are numerous other risks in IT projects, but the possibility of their emergence can be minimized when the process of development is thoughtfully and correctly organized. Paying attention to details is crucial, and that is where Elinext great strength lies. If you are interested in how we organize the development, want to learn more about the engagement models we offer, or have any other questions, feel free to contact us

Thank you for reading.

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