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Who Owns the Risk?

This post is from LeadingAgile by Mike Cottmeyer. Click here to see the original post in full.

Back in my late 20′s I was a project manager in a pretty good sized IT shop. I worked under a great VP that put me in situations that were really beyond my abilities.  He fundamentally believed that I’d do a good job for him. He trusted that I’d learn what I needed to learn and use good judgement about when to ask for help. There was a point in my career where everything interesting on my resume was a direct result of some project this guy had me lead.

One of those projects was a pretty significant identity and access management initiative where we were building out a corporate LDAP infrastructure. The goal was to establish an integrated authentication engine so clients could basically sign-on to any of our web properties with a single login ID and password. Our company didn’t have any expertise in this area, so I ended up with about a quarter of a million dollars to spend to bring in some consulting expertise.

We ended up bringing in a large, well known consulting firm to help… they were really, really good but as you might expect, very expensive. I decided to negotiate a fixed scope, fixed price contract under the assumption that it would mitigate my risk. My goal was to shift all the delivery risk to the consulting firm so that I would be assured of delivering my project on time and and on budget. Had we had perfect knowledge of what was required, that might have been a good strategy.

As you might have guessed,...

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