Project Management

Agile and the New Standard for Risk Management

Southern Alberta Chapter

Mike Griffiths is an experienced project manager, author and consultant who works for PMI as a subject matter expert. Before joining PMI, Mike consulted and managed innovation and technology projects throughout Europe, North and South America for 30+ years. He was co-lead for the PMBOK Guide—Seventh Edition, lead for the Agile Practice Guide, and contributor to the PMI-ACP and PMP exam content outlines. Outside of PMI, Mike maintains the websites about leading teams and, which teaches project management for visual learners.

PMI’s latest publication, The Standard for Risk Management in Portfolios, Programs and Projects, has some great recommendations for agile practitioners once you dig into it (the electronic copy is free for PMI members).

It may surprise some people that a PMI standard is applicable to agile teams. To some, PMI standards represent all the non-productive documentation and big-design-upfront that agile was created to avoid. However, it is only process that carries weight; knowledge is weightless, so it never hurts to learn more about a topic then apply only what you need, where you need it.

This new standard has a wealth of great information about effective risk management and contains recommendations for iterative, incremental and adaptive environments that fit agile projects well. It starts with the best definition of risks, opportunities and threats I have seen:

“Risk is an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more objectives. Positive risks are opportunities, while negative risks are threats.”

Working with agile teams, people intuitively know threats belong in the backlog, but often opportunities are forgotten and not actively managed. This is a loss since opportunities are often closely related to the features and business benefits that make up the bulk of the backlog.

Encouraging people …

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