CHOW #7– Support changes: what could be the risks?

Your project is to manage the knowledge transition to take over application support and maintenance for a large Indian corporate house (called IndiaNow!). The application is a scaled-down ERP system, custom developed for IndiaNow! by a software provider (called Momentum Software) who is at present supporting the system. IndiaNow! has picked you for support & maintenance as they are unhappy with Momentum Software for a number of reasons. What risks do you see in this project and what would be your risk responses (avoidance, acceptance/contingency action, mitigation and transfer). State any assumptions that you may be making.

Suggested solution:

We will primarily look at the top two risks in terms of risk score (product of risk probability and potential impact).

Risk 1: Risk that the Momentum Software (MS) staff may not be available as required resulting in impact to the project schedule and cost.

Probability: High             Impact: High            Risk score: High

Some risk response actions:

1.1 Risk avoidance:

– Make IndiaNow! responsible for all co-ordination with MS for the transition project ensure availability (in other words, your removing a part from your scope)

A question for you here: why is this not considered a risk transfer back to IndiaNow? Hint: Check the definition of risk transfer.

1.2 Risk acceptance with a contingency action & triggers identified:

1.3 Some possible risk mitigation actions:

– Escalate as and when risk materializes happens to IndiaNow!

Risk trigger:

Availability (such as hours logged by MS staff for the project) or any other progress measure (schedule, say) slipping beyond a tolerance limit trend crossing a threshold.

– Get the project plan co-created by IndiaNow!, MS and your organization with key dependencies, resources identified

– Set up a tri-partite (i.e., IndiaNow!, MS and your organization) project review board for monitoring, issue resolution etc.

– Explore the possibility of a financial incentive for MS with IndiaNow!

– Identify the most key people in MS for the transition and provide flexible time slots for them to choose and commit; this reduces the probability of key interviews slipping( but NOT the potential impact)

– Provide for alternate channels of communication: face-to-face, skype, phone calls, and flexible hours / days (evenings, weekends etc as feasible)

– Explore the possibility of recruiting key MS staff offering an attractive compensation package (how ethical is this??); is it perhaps less unethical to get IndiaNow! to recruit key MS staff?? May be there are contractual non-poach clauses between IndiaNow! and MS.

1.4 Risk transfer: No easy option here! Agree?

Risk 2: Risk that the quality of inputs from MS staff may not be up to mark resulting in impact to the transition project schedule, cost and quality. This could happen for many reasons – MS themselves may have lost their key staff due to attrition; or MS staff are not co-operative and sharing openly (only reacting tersely to questions from your organization)

Probability: High          Impact: High          Risk score: High

Some risk response actions:

2.1 Risk avoidance:

2.2 Risk acceptance with a contingency action & triggers identified:

– No easy avoidance option! What do you think?

– How do assess quality of inputs? What are the triggers for escalation?

 You may perhaps rope in a power user (will she be available??) or an external domain expert (will she be neutral??) to be present in your interviews with MS to assess the quality of their inputs (such as the power

user validating that the implemented system is actually conforming to what the MS interviewee is saying)

2.3 Some possible risk mitigation actions:

– Quality may be fully apparent only after the transition is complete; transition should, therefore, include a period when you support and MS is the back-up – You can record key sessions with MS for later reference and perhaps assessment of completeness and accuracy beyond the project- Including power users from IndiaNow! in the transition project could somewhat reduce the risk impact of MS staff not being up to mark – but may be not by much (as they may know only the functional aspects and not the design / implementation)

– Explore the possibility of a financial incentive for MS with IndiaNow! to address MS staff motivation if not capability

2.4 Risk transfer: No easy option here! Agree?

Here is a possible positive risk / opportunity:

MS staff may find the IndiaNow! employment a better long prospect than MS and apply for positions there! (note that IndiaNow! is not poaching – they are being approached by MS staff!)

How can you increase the probability and impact of this positive risk? Any thoughts?

There could be other risks in addition to the above – such as inadequacy of documentation, differences in the production baselines versus what MS delivered to IndiaNow! (IndiaNow! may have done some changes by themselves).

You can think about analyzing these and other risks you may think of along the lines of what we

have done above for Risk 1 and Risk 2.


What do you think?

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