Agile as a risk mitigation technique

When I first started using and investigating agile principles and practices, I didn’t immediately realize how well these techniques worked in order to reduce project risk. As I talk with others about adopting agile, many fear the ‘risk’ of moving to agile techniques. Here are a few thoughts on how agile practices reduce risk on your projects (I’m sure I’ve missed a few):

Project Risk Agile Practice
Addressing schedule and estimate risks Manage to done, Velocity, Relative estimating, User stories
Addressing the risk of building the wrong thing Deliver early and often in small increments, Iteration demos
Addressing the risk of validating your architecture Steel thread, Iterative development
Identifying risks and issues as soon as possible Daily stand-ups, Frequent retrospectives, Iterative Development, Manage to done
Addressing scope risks Iterative development, User stories, User story slicing, Relative Estimating, User story mapping, Trim the tail
Addressing people risks Paired programming, Team ownership practices
Addressing quality risks TDD, BDD, ATDD

This list doesn’t address the risks that accompany any change initiative, but it does underline that many agile techniques are directly targetted at averting project risk. Agile practices help us shorten the distance between guessing (planning, designing, estimating, etc) and knowing.

Re-posted from

About WinnipegAgilist

Steve Rogalsky - An agilist and team member at Protegra with a passion for agile and lean principles and practices. Green bar addict, agile player/coach, teacher, dad, husband. Email: steve.rogalsky at protegra dot com


2 thoughts on “Agile as a risk mitigation technique

  1. Great topic, Steve. One that you could probably add is “project cancellation risk” with the Agile practice of “delivering done usable software at the end of every Sprint” so as not to be stuck with the best damn architecture known to man that does absolutely nothing.


    Posted by Alex Armstrong | April 5, 2011, 3:52 pm
  2. I agree whole heartedly – thanks Alex

    Posted by Steve Rogalsky | April 5, 2011, 3:53 pm

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