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Johanna Rothman helps managers and teams solve problems and deliver products. Her most recent book is Manage your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects. You can read her blogs and other writings at Johanna is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 128 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Plan for Murphy

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It seems strange to plan for Murphy’s Law, but if you don’t plan for risks, they will happen and they will turn into disasters. Some risks you can’t plan for, but many risks you can anticipate.

I plan for some typical risks: I keep a power cord in my office, in my briefcase, in my living room. I never have to move a power cord, and if cord fails, I have easy access to one.

I’ve been working on an agile architecture workshop with Rebecca Wirfs-Brock, and we have had more Murphy moments than any small project deserves. Last week, when we were close to done, but still were under pressure to meet our deadline (think one-week iterations), my power went out. Yes, my town lost power for several hours. In the afternoon, during our joint working time, the power went out. It doesn’t matter how many power cords you have, if you don’t have power to the house!

I texted Rebecca, so she knew that I was unable to save our files, that I had no power, and when the power company told me I might have power. Now she knew what I knew. I read a book—on my Kindle :-).

But my suggestion to plan for Murphy still holds. My Kindle still had power, so I could read for several hours. I even still have paper books—many of them. I have phones with built-in power so I could use them, at least for a while. I could have brought my computer to another town that still had power (something you might not be able to do on a larger project or in a location with a real disaster).

Risk management is project management. If you don’t plan for Murphy, he will come and live on your project forever. Take a few minutes and review your project: anything you need to do to keep Murphy off your project or program today?

Published at DZone with permission of Johanna Rothman, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)



Muhammad Faiz replied on Fri, 2012/04/13 - 8:40am

The mitigation activities and associated costs should be compared with the impact of the risk (likelihood is already 100%). Meeting the deadline at all costs?

Final remark is only plan for Murphy which is in the vicinity. Planning for a snowstorm in the summer might be a bit to early, but reconsider you risk register every coupe of weeeks and see which new risks are surfacing. This helps to create active risk management in your project

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