Disciplined Agile

How Disciplined Agile Teams Address Risk

Disciplined Agile (DA) includes strategies to effectively address risk, not just manage it, throughout the tool kit. There are strategies to address risk at the team level and throughout your enterprise.

Addressing Risk Within Agile Teams

Disciplined Agile (DA) has several team-level risk mitigation strategies built in:

  1. The Address Risk process goal. The Address Risk process goal captures a number of potential strategies to address risk at the team level.
  2. Risk-based milestones. The DA approach is to have consistent, risk-based milestones addressed by teams, as appropriate, to provide leadership with visibility and collaboration points into the teams that they oversee. This enables better governance and increases the opportunities to address risk effectively.
  3. Support for a risk-value life cycle. DAD promotes a risk-value life cycle approach where we recommend that risk be considered when prioritizing work in addition to stakeholder value—many agile methods focus just on value to their detriment. Figure 1 summarizes the risk-value profile for a DAD team, showing how DAD teams address a lot of risk very early in the life cycle via addressing the Stakeholder Vision and Proven Architecture milestones. Figure 2 compares the risk profile/burndown of a typical DAD team with that of a typical Scrum team (which only takes a value-driven life cycle) and a typical traditional team that pushes a lot of risk to the very end of the life cycle.
  4. Support for ordered ways of working (WoW). Within each process goal diagram many of the decision points have ordered option/choice lists. This makes the lower-risk ways of working explicit because the more effective options tend to be toward the top of the ordered lists. 
Risk Value

Figure 1. The risk-value profile of a DA team (click to enlarge).

Risk Comparison

Figure 2. Comparing the risk burndowns of typical DAD, Scrum, and traditional teams (click to enlarge).

Addressing Risk Across the Enterprise

Sometimes what looks like a small risk at the team level proves to be a large risk at a higher level in your organization when many teams face that same small risk – a collection of small risks add up to a big risk. As a result risks must be aggregated and addressed as a whole. The DA tool kit supports at several levels:

  1. Program. Addressing program risk is a critical aspect of program governance.
  2. Portfolio. Addressing portfolio risk is a critical aspect of portfolio governance.
  3. Enterprise. The Governance process blade includes an explicit Address Enterprise Risk decision point.

February 2022

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