Agile PM Process Grid-5.8 Risk-Based Spikes

In John Stenbeck’s book “PMI-ACP and Certified Scrum Professional Exam Prep and Desk Reference”, he creates an “agile project management process grid” which describes 87 processes used in agile project management.   These processes are divided into five process groups (Initiate, Plan, Iterate, Control, and Close), which are analogous to the five process groups in traditional project management, and seven knowledge areas which can be mapped, more or less, onto the ten knowledge areas in traditional project management.

I am now covering a block of five processes that relate to risk management which are done on a repeating basis during each iteration of the project.   The first of these processes is 5.6 Problem Solving, which was covered in a previous post.    The second of these processes is 5.7, which is Continuous Integration.    This post relating to risk management in agile projects is process 3.8 Risk-Based Spikes.

In earlier discussions on estimation, such as in the Planning Poker game, there were certain stories that you may not be able to get a consensus around regarding what their story “size” is, i.e., their estimated duration.    This is usually because the team doesn’t have information to determine a rational estimate.

A risk-based spike is an experiment designed to assess the probability of an event occurring.   The purpose of the spike is replace speculation with concrete data about triggering events and the need for mitigation planning to develop alternative project plans as a risk response.  This gives the team real data about the probability of making progress within a specified duration.

Ultimately, risk-based spikes are an agile learning technique that helps clarify the team’s understanding of the risk factors involved in the overall design.

The next post is on process 3.9 Risk Burn-Down Charts.




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