Applied Software Risk Management: A Guide for Software Project Managers

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The high failure rates associated with information systems projects suggest that organizations need to improve not only their ability to identify the risks associated with these projects, but also to manage them Jiang et al.

Based on this information, this article aims to present a review, classification, and analysis of the current literature on risk management in software development projects, thereby enabling the assessment of trends and gaps in the literature on the use of risk management in micro and small incubated technology-based companies. This work is theoretical and conceptual in nature.

It is a discussion arising from a literature review, which resulted in the raising of a number of relevant points Miguel, ; Wacker, To develop the study we carried out a literature review of the risk management process, which sought to identify in the scientific literature works whose primary or secondary theme addressed risk management in software development projects. The article is structured as follows: Section 1 presented an introduction, objectives and justifications.

Section 2 illustrates the relevance of the research conducted in incubated technology-based companies and of risk management in software development projects; the data collection is outlined in Section 3, and Section 4 presents the analysis and results. Finally, Section 5 offers discussions and conclusions, as well as suggestions for further research.

According to Kendrick , all projects have risks, but high-technology projects have particular risks, such as their high variation.


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Although there may be similarities with project work done in the past, each project has unique aspects and objectives that substantially differ from previous work, as well as challenges to execute them faster and faster. Dahlstrand defines a technology-based company as one that depends on technology for its growth and survival, although this does not necessarily mean that the technology must be new or innovative.

According to Costa et al. Risk management as a formal structure, despite its importance, is still considered a minor tool in organizations. It is noteworthy that, considering the total workforce of the participating organizations, After conducting a review of risks in the software development process, Bannerman concluded that there is a need for better risk management, both in research and in practice. Unfortunately, despite these recommendations, there are relatively few tools available to help project managers to identify and categorize risk factors, in order to develop effective strategies Wallace et al.

For the ITBEs evaluated, the process of risk analysis would result in a fault-prevention process, thereby enabling decision-making based on organized data. Also, an appropriate review of risks in the software development process may indicate prospects for future study, identifying gaps and furthering the conduction of research in the technology-based business incubator environment.

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Software projects are high-risk activities, generating variable performance outcomes Charette, According to Kerzner , p. Risk management plans are now [were then] included in the project plans [ A risk can be composed of two components: the probability that a loss will occur, and the importance or magnitude of this possible loss Barki et al.

Risks in software projects encompass a number of factors or conditions that may pose a serious threat to the successful completion of the project Wallace et al. In a similar survey conducted by the same authors in order to evaluate cancellation and success rates, a cancellation rate of Despite this, many software development projects still use more resources than planned, take too long to complete, and provide less quality and functionality than expected Barros et al. But why do software projects fail so often?

Although some managers claim that they manage the risks in their projects, there is evidence that they do not do so systematically. Some may assess technical risks at the expense of market and financial risks, which are just as vital to software development success Dey et al. According to Barros et al. Raz et al. According to Saarinen , the success factors in implementing projects should cover four areas: success of development process; success of the use process; quality of product; and impact on the organization. Dey et al. Identifying the risks associated with the implementation of Information Technology IT projects can become a major challenge for managers, since there are various approaches to describing and classifying risks Baccarini et al.

PMBoK PMI, suggests the following steps in the risk management process: risk management planning, risk identification, qualitative risk analysis, quantitative risk analysis, risk response planning, and risk monitoring and control.

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Because risks vary in nature, severity, and consequences, it is important to identify, understand, and manage high-level risks Baccarini et al. The process of identifying and estimating system risks can be accomplished by a variety of techniques—regression analysis, expert systems, and stochastic models Houston et al.

Thus, the main approaches were compared Neves et al. As can be seen from Chart 1 , the various risk management approaches are very similar in their context. Next, we present the survey data collected for the present study. The analysis period extended from the launch date of each journal until September 7, The journals where the selected items were found can be seen in Chart 2. To provide more current data, the articles were sorted by decade, and the most recent period corresponded to 27 articles Figure 5.

Chart 3 shows a selection of the main results of research about risk management in software projects, based on the articles analyzed. It was observed that most research efforts have been focused on large public and private enterprises, or members of institutes such as the PMI. Incubated technology-based companies have not been directly cited in the evaluated articles.

In order to classify the research work, we used the data presented in Chart 4 as a reference. Next, we present the main results, which in addition to the abstracts presented in Chart 3 include works published by Wallace et al. Figure 6 shows the result of the classification of articles by the place where the research was performed. Figure 7 shows the concentration of articles in accordance with the focus of research.

The focus of research shows a trend in the literature toward the analysis of risk factors or risk taxonomies. It is the grouping of similar items, based on established criteria. Many authors emphasize the question of risk factors in the literature McFarlan, ; Boehm, ; Barki et al. In this regard, Schmidt et al.

Applied Software Project Management

The advocates of risk management in software projects suggest that project managers should identify and control these factors to reduce the chance of project failure Wallace et al. According to Keil et al. However, some criticisms of risk factors or similar approaches are presented in the literature.

Murthi posits that risk taxonomies can be used as guides to project teams in the identification stage of risk management. However, despite the large amount of work done to develop these taxonomies, they tend to ignore the risks that usually affect current projects. Rovai understands that whereas the advantage of building a list of risks is that risk identification becomes quick and simple, the disadvantage is that building a comprehensive list of risks is difficult, and the user is effectively limited to the categories in the list.

Figure 8 presents the publications found according to research methods. Lastly, we performed a bibliometric analysis to find which of the main articles about risks and software projects were most cited, across all time periods and considering the total number of citations received by the original document. Bibliometrics provides an essentially objective quantitative measure of scientific output Okubo, Figure 12 shows the ranking of the most-cited authors, those with over 15 citations.

Data were quantified through the use of the Sitkis and UCINET bibliometric tools, which converted textual information into numerical data in order to allow the completion of the statistical analyses, generating lists, tables, and matrices.

We understand that authors cite articles that are important in the development of their research. Of the 13 most-cited authors we found, 10 were included in this study, indicating the relevance of the selected works. Implementing co-citation analysis of articles allows us to evaluate the citations among pairs so as to realize the similarity between content items.

Applied Software Risk Management: A Guide for Software Project Managers

According to Marshakova , co-citation quantifies the relationship between two or more articles, according to the number of documents where they are cited simultaneously. The period of analysis considered the starting date of each journal up to September 7, The results can be seen in Chart 5. Because of the relatively small number of articles analysed, it is not possible to generalize our findings, but some the following considerations can be inferred from the study:. Research classification was problematic, because articles, especially older ones, did not provide related information.

Information about the object of study was not clear either;. However, we perceive that the authors are concerned with establishing both the dynamics of the software development environment, which can quickly outdate the work in this area, and the culture of the country where the study is conducted, which allows the emergence of further studies on this theme. The lack of research on this subject in some journals that focus on research on micro and small enterprises also suggests more studies to be conducted.

Another motivating factor for further research in micro and small incubated technology-based companies is that, in most cases, the objects of study referred to large companies or projects in the public and private sector; none of the studies assessed mentioned incubated companies. Identifying and classifying risks in a incubated company may represent a breakthrough in their management processes, enabling new research that may help the managers of these companies to assess which activities need more attention regarding potential risks, and what decisions to make if the situation should occur.

Addison, T. E-commerce project development risks: evidence from a Delphi survey. International Journal of Information Management, 23 1 , Recuperado em 19 de setembro de , de www. Baccarini, D. Management of risks in information technology projects. Bannerman, P. Risk and risk management in software projects: a reassessment.

Applied Software Risk Management: A Guide For Software Project Managers

Journal of Systems and Software, 81 12 , Barki, H. Toward an assessment of software development risk. Journal of Management Information Systems, 10 2 , An integrative contingency model of software project risk management. Journal of Management Information Systems, 17 4 , Barros, M. Supporting risks in software project management. Journal of Systems and Software, 70 , Bertrand, J. Modeling and simulation: operations management research methodologies using quantitative modeling. Boehm, B. A spiral model of software development and enhancement. IEEE Computer, 21 5 , Software risk management: principles and practices.

IEEE Software, 8 1 , Using risk to balance agile and plan-driven methods. IEEE Computer, 36 6 , Qualidade e Produtividade no Setor de Software Brasileiro. Bryde, D. Project management concepts, methods and application. The Radical Enlightenments of Benjamin Franklin Journal of Applied Meteorology: Vol.