Book: Risk-First Software Development: The Menagerie

The software development world is crowded with different practices, metrics, methodologies, tools and techniques.

For example, metrics such as “number of open tickets”, “code coverage” or “release cadence” give us a numerical feel for how things are going, and methodologies such as Scrum, Waterfall and Lean give us different approaches to organising.

But what unites them all?

About Risk-First

The Risk-First perspective is that all of these practices and methodologies have at their heart the job of managing different risks. Risk isn’t something that just appears in a report, it actually drives everything we do:

  • A story about improving the user login screen can be seen as reducing the risk of users not signing up.
  • If we write unit tests, we’re tackling the risk of bugs going to production, but we’re also defending against the risk of future changes breaking our existing functionality.
  • A task about improving the health indicators could be seen as addressing the risk of the application failing and no-one reacting to it.
  • Implementing a new function in the application is fixing the risk that users are dissatisfied and go elsewhere.

Risk-First makes the case that better understanding the nature of these risks is critical to building software in the complex, interconnected domain we work in.

About The Menagerie:

This book is volume one of the Risk-First series, introducing the case for viewing all of the activities on a software project as attempting to manage risk.

It introduces the menagerie of different risks you’re likely to meet on a software project, naming and classifying them so that we can try to understand them better. The book aims to develop a Pattern Language for understanding software risk, and develop a practical framework for discussing how the activities we take on a project change the balance of the risks we are exposed to.

More information here:

Published: February 21, 2019

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