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Information Technology Project Management. Managing IT Project Risk. Outline. Defining IT Failure Defining Risk and Risk Management Risk Management Cycle Risk Identification Risk Analysis Risk Handling Risk Monitoring. What do we mean by failure?.

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Information Technology Project Management

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Information technology project management

Information Technology Project Management

Managing IT Project Risk



  • Defining IT Failure

  • Defining Risk and Risk Management

  • Risk Management Cycle

    • Risk Identification

    • Risk Analysis

    • Risk Handling

    • Risk Monitoring

What do we mean by failure

What do we mean by failure?

  • Lyytinen (1988) distinguishes between “development failure” and “use failure”

  • A more detailed categorization of IT failure would include:

    • system grossly exceeds original budget

    • system grossly exceeds original schedule

    • system never functions technically

    • system functions, but quality is so poor that, for all practical purposes, system is not usable

    • system functions but is not used--users reject the system because it is cumbersome to use or because they have no incentive to use it

    • system functions, but completely lacks originally promised functionality or fails to fit the task it was designed to support



Some observations about success failure





Stakeholder A

Stakeholder B

Some Observations about Success/Failure

  • Success/Failure is often viewed as a binary classification

  • Success/Failure should be viewed along a continuum

  • Success is in the eyes of the beholder

Why it projects fail the traditional wisdom

Why IT Projects Fail:The Traditional Wisdom

  • Systems are specified and initiated by IS without sufficient input from the user(s)

  • Inadequate estimates of development cost and time

  • Lines of responsibility not clearly specified

  • User acceptance test delayed until the project is completed

  • Inadequate system testing

  • Implementation difficulties

Warning signs keider 1984

Warning Signs(Keider, 1984)

  • Inadequate status reporting

  • Isolation

  • Lack of schedule changes

  • Overemphasis on how a system will be built

  • Premature programming

  • Staff reassignments

Defining risk and risk management

Defining Risk and Risk Management

  • A project risk is a potential problem that would be detrimental to a project’s success should it materialize

  • Risk management is the identification and response to potential problems with sufficient lead time to avoid a crisis

Risk management cycle

Risk Management Cycle









Risk identification

Risk Identification

  • Business risk

    • Market risk

    • Shifts in business strategy or senior management

  • Technical risk

    • Design and development problems

    • Testing and maintenance problems

    • Technical uncertainty

  • Project risk

    • Budget

    • Schedule

    • Personnel

    • Requirements problems

Tools for identifying risks

Tools for Identifying Risks

  • Checklists (e.g., Boehm’s top ten risk list)

  • Frameworks (e.g., McFarlan’s framework)

  • Questionnaires (e.g., Barki, Rivard, and Talbot survey)

Risk factors what the literature says

Risk Factors: What the Literature Says . . .

  • Technological newness

  • Application size

  • Application complexity

  • Task complexity

  • Project team expertise

  • Organizational environment

  • Magnitude of potential loss

Barki, Rivard, and Talbot, 1993

What project managers say

What Project Managers Say

Risk analysis

Risk Analysis

  • For each identified risk, evaluate the probability of occurrence

  • For each identified risk evaluate the impact if the risk should occur

  • Prioritize your risk handling effort based on both probability and impact

Assigning probabilities

Assigning Probabilities

  • Here we ask: “What is the likelihood that something will go wrong?”

  • Establish a scale that reflects the perceived likelihood of a risk

    • Probability scales are commonly used

    • Can be qualitative or quantitative

      • e.g. highly improbable, improbably, moderate, likely, highly likely

      • e.g. 0-100% probability

Example scale for evaluation of probability

Example Scale for Evaluation of Probability

Assessing impact

Assessing Impact

  • Here we ask: “What is the damage or impact if something does go wrong?”

  • Three factors can be used to assess impact

    • Nature of the risk (i.e. the problems that are likely if it occurs)

    • Scope of the risk (i.e. how serious is the risk and how much of the project will be affected?)

    • Timing of the risk (i.e. when and for how long will the impact be felt)

Example scale for evaluation of impact

Example Scale for Evaluation of Impact

Risk matrix example

Risk Matrix Example

Risk handling

Risk Handling

  • Risk prevention

    • Develop options to reduce the potential of the problem occurring

  • Risk avoidance

    • Accepting a lower risk (another solution) to avoid a high risk

  • Risk remedy

    • Monitoring risk status and developing solutions to reduce effect when risk becomes a problem

  • Risk assumption

    • Decision to accept the risk should it occur

  • Risk reduction

    • Obtaining additional information that will reduce risk (e.g., prototyping, incremental development)

Risk monitoring

Risk Monitoring

  • Should be done periodically

    • (e.g., when certain milestones are reached, at the end of project phases, at steering committee meetings, etc.)

  • Useful to regularly assess and update project risk exposure

  • Senior management should be involved in monitoring and should be aware of exposures

  • Listen to the project group

Establishing risk referent levels

Region in which

project termination

will occur




Referent level for



Projected Cost Overrun

Establishing Risk Referent Levels

  • Risk referent levels can be set to define regions of acceptable and unacceptable risks

  • Three typical risk referent levels

    • Cost overrun

    • Schedule slippage

    • Performance criteria

  • Example

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