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Your monthly dose of Project Management articles.

The Top 5 Software Project Risks

It is commonly known that any software development project contains elements of uncertainty and that the project success depends largerly on the amount of risk and ways that project manager deals with it. Risks cannot be avoided, but they can be recognized ahead of time and mitigated. In this article, we will focus on the top five risks associated with software development.

Technology - Often times, development of a new software product entails the use of new technology. Upgrades to standards, protocols, tools, 3rd party components and APIs can all cause unexpected issues and result in delays and rework. To reduce this risk, it is important to never use a technology only for the sake of trying something new or because a certain tool is deemed "the latest and greatest". It is important to understand the specific needs of a given platform and to identify the best solution based on experience and skills of the development team.

Scope - Scope creep is probably the most common risk when it comes to software development projects. It refers to the uncontrollable changes to the requirements that occur after the project has started. To minimize the severity of this issue, the project manager should be very diligent when it comes to scope control. Agile approach to project management helps with prioritization and differentiation between features that can be postponed to a later sprint and those that should be included immediately.

Team - Absence of a key team member who possesses critical information or skillset can lead to significant delays or even derail the project completely. Collaboration and information sharing amongst the team members will greatly reduce if not eliminate this risk. Daily meetings, online collaboration tools, centralized knowledge base system are just a few examples of how this can be accomplished.

Schedule - Creating an accurate schedule for software development projects is inherently difficult due to various factors (some of them are outlined in this article above). For this reason it is best to break the project down into smaller iterations (Sprints) during which a subset of functions can be developed and any schedule slips can be identified and addressed immediately. By working in short increments, the development team can demonstrate progress and better manage the stakeholder expectations.

Costs - Just like with schedules, it is very difficult to estimate the cost of developing a software product. One study has found that as many as 66% of all enterprise software projects have cost overruns. While this cannot be completely avoided, a few things can be done to reduce the severity of the issue. Asking for and incorporating user's feedback throughout the development process will likely reduce the need to make changes upon product delivery. Having a dedicated project development team will also reduce the costs associated with "context switching" (frequent transitions between tasks throughout the day reduce productivity). Finally, factoring in some extra budget for the unavoidable change requests will reduce the "surprise" factor.

At JetRockets we believe that transparency and client engagement are key to project success. To facilitate transparency, we go above and beyond the usual "Weekly Status Updates" that our competitors use. Our clients have full access to our project management system and our development environment, where they can see the work as it progresses in real-time and can provide timely feedback when necessary. This helps us mitigate the risks and properly manage client expectations when it comes to budgets and schedules.


Published at with the consent of the author

Natalie Kaminski

About author

Web and Mobile Tech Entrepreneur who helps companies build awesome software, web and mobile products

I am a web and mobile technology entrepreneur who loves to build digital products and to help businesses become more efficient by using technology.

My company, can help you with:

1) Ideation to MVP - we help deliver quick and quality MVP solutions so that clients can test out their ideas early on in the process, as well as impress potential investors with functional product demoes.

2) Long-Term Engagements - we provide long-term consulting and development support by becoming our clients' product development team. We provide a one-stop solution to companies who understand the need for technology, yet are not interested in maintaining an in-house development team.

3) Building Your Dream Team - we help clients to build in-house development teams; from hiring strategy to training. 
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