Saturday, February 7, 2009

Risks in Student Projects

Even on your student projects, there are significant risks to your finishing your project on time. Analyze the making of a student software development project and list the possible risks. What techniques can you use to mitigate each risk?

As a student, we are bound to get distracted from projects easily. I’ve gained considerable experience in making software or systems with some of my classmates and the following are the risks that are most probable:

a. Unequal distribution of tasks among the team members
b. Information or requirements gathered for the project are insufficient or inappropriate
c. Team members are unable to deliver the expected output from them
d. Team members are unwilling to cooperate
e. Time is not managed properly
f. Deadlines are not met
g. Technical risks

In order to mitigate each risk, generally, teamwork is very important. A project can be finished successfully with good teamwork. I think that is one reason that most instructors allow us to choose our group mates so that we can choose to work with those who we are comfortable with.

In a more specific approach, I think that the first risk can be mitigated, if not totally diminished, if a work and staffing plan is made before proceeding with the project. This way, members can agree to the jobs assigned to them and make sure that the project tasks are distributed equally. From experience, we usually just point to somebody who’s good at something and make him do the part alone. Not only is this unfair to the unwilling person but also tiresome for his part to do the job alone.

The second risk can be mitigated, I think, by conducting several interviews with the users or “customers” and verifying the information gathered every step of the way. Also, I think it would be most helpful if we prepared a set of interview questions beforehand and make the instructor check it for any lacking aspects.

The third and fourth risks are probably more difficult to deal with since they concern a team member’s sense of responsibility. From experience, the third risk has a very negative effect on the project schedule in which the project is set back until the member can deliver his output. The other team members can do very little to lessen this risk except to just continue reminding the other members of their responsibilities. An idea to lessen this may possibly be giving sanctions to the members who cannot deliver. The fourth risk, however, might cause conflict within the team if a member is unwilling to cooperate. From experience, usually when the other members try to get this unwilling member to cooperate, it ends up creating conflict among the team members and an uneasy atmosphere kicks is. This actually affects the project by slowing the development down.

Moving on, the fifth risk is probably the most difficult to overcome. We’ve had experience making Gantt Charts to lay down our schedules with projects but despite of that, we still run late. To mitigate this risk would take more than a well-made project schedule. It will also need the determination and cooperation of each of the team members to stick with the schedule religiously. Also, team members should have the willpower to avoid distractions and temptations. The sixth risk is actually a result of the fifth risk. Although when you run late with a project it doesn’t always mean that you will miss the deadlines, the probability of missing them is higher. As much as possible, we need to make up for the lost time by working twice as hard.

The last risk that I listed is technical risks. Technical risks such as unavailability of computers to do the software development on, loss of project data, power outages and the likes, also threaten the successful completion of our projects. To mitigate this risk, as what one of our previous instructors always tells us- BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP. From previous team projects, like in the case of our DBAD subjects, at the end of the day, each team member secures one a copy of the project that we completed so far. At least, when the main copy is lost, we have other backups to work on.

Not all risks can be avoided smoothly and sometimes they do inflict significant effects to the project. However, what we can do is recover from them gracefully and always value teamwork for the success of the project.

1 comment:

  1. one thing to know...this is just a simple problems facing in a current situation right now...on my case, projects developed in SE expected to be finished on the 3rd week of august...this is to take time for other subjects to handle...but be careful for have to maintain balance in terms of lifestyle and food intake...this may affects your project development tactics you face...

    one of the risks also is: health issued on the part of the other team mates...if one of the members of the team got sick and it is on the consultation time, you have to make adjustments on this system in order to manage it properly even one of the team members are temporarily absent for sickness