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What is software risk and how can I reduce it?

In almost all areas of business, the involved parties will analyse risk factors, and consider how to mitigate or eliminate them moving forward. Risk management is a major factor in all business, but in many cases hasn’t played much of a part in software development.

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Software risk, therefore, refers to risk encountered during a software development process. These risks tend to revolve around new technologies, but also around more nebulous user requirements.

So how can businesses involved in development analyse software risk, and how can they mitigate potential losses?

How to analyse software risk

A business will analyse software risk in a very similar way to any other risk. Before beginning the project, as well as throughout, the project must be evaluated to identify potential risks, prioritise risks by probability and severity, plan to mitigate the risks if they develop, and then to monitor the risks.

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In general, risks will take the shape of a few different categories. Novel technologies will be the most common risk, as most software development will take the place of creating something new, and will implement emerging technologies. With anything new or emerging, the risks are often unknown, so maximising knowledge of the technology is important to mitigating risk.

Second and third are linked, and these are architecture and user expectation. Architectural risks will usually involve changing requirements which the development cannot gracefully accommodate. In many cases, these will be caused by end user expectations. This can be mitigated somewhat with strong planning, and through programming best practices to ensure modularity.

Prevention is the cure

Like with security, where an investment in endpoint security management, such as https://www.promisec.com, can save huge amounts of money compared to the costs of a breach, an investment in software risk analysis and increased effort in mitigation may add costs, but it will save large amounts compared to the cost of fixing problems down the line.

Prevention can take many forms, but will almost certainly include regular risk analysis of the development projects, as well as a focus on coding flexible architectures, and increasing QA testing.

The old adage ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ applies to many aspects of business and life, including analysing and mitigating software risk. Spending time learning to mitigate software risk and putting plans into action saves time and money throughout development.

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