The Agile PM Process Grid–5.9 Risk Burn-Down Charts

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 three of these processes are 5.6 Problem Solving, 5.7 Continuous Integration, and 5.8 Risk-Based Spikes, which were covered in previous posts.   The process discussed in this post is 5.9 Risk Burn Down Charts.

A risk burn-down chart shows the risks that are still in play in a given project.   Most risks are tied to specific processes which, if passed through without incident, are no longer a problem for the duration of the project.

Here’s how it is constructed:

  1. Construct a risk list, sometimes referred to as a risk register.
  2. Assign a probability value to each risk–this value can be on a scale from 1 to 10, or something more general, like Low/Medium/High.
  3. Assign an impact value to each risk–this value is the estimated number of days that would be lost if the risk materializes into an actual problem (also known as an issue).
  4. Take the two values obtained in steps 2 and 3, and multiply them.   The result is a single value, known as the risk exposure.   Add up the total risk exposure of all risks listed in the risk register.
  5. Plot the total risk exposure on the y-axis and the number of days in the project on the x-axis.   The total risk exposure should gradually decrease so that the graph looks like a line going from upper left to lower right as the project goes forward.
  6. After each iteration, plot the ACTUAL risk remaining against the planned remaining risk created in step 5.   Then you can see whether the risk is being reduced as planned or whether there are lingering, unresolved risks that need attending to.

The next and last process related to risk management done during each iteration is 5.9 Verification and Validation.



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