When it comes to custom software development projects—or really any business initiative—there is a certain amount of risk involved. So when a vendor or new team member is brought on board to manage or assist with the project, who owns that risk?

We’ve found that we work best with organizations where there is a culture of accountability and risk ownership.

Over the years we’ve worked with many clients on custom software projects. For some we provided staff augmentation. For others we provided a fuller scope of our services, including project management and development.

There have been multiple projects over the years where our clients viewed us as the calvary. They had worked with another vendor—sometimes for years—and the project had numerous problems, delays, and other issues.

Eventually, they decided to clean house. At some point after that we were called in. One of the first things we would do in a situation like that is advise the client on the risk involved in the project.

At that point, you would expect leadership in the organization to take ownership. They should ask things like, “Okay, what can we do to mitigate the risk?”

If leadership is taking ownership of the project, if there’s a culture of accountability, they have a desire to mitigate risks. They make informed decisions to reduce that risk.

They own the risk!

What about the alternative? In an organization with no accountability, they’re not prepared to manage and mitigate the risk. If there are parts of the project that are higher risk than others, parts that are extremely important pieces of the system, the warnings fall on deaf ears.

In that situation, the leadership chooses not to own the risk. Instead, they assume that the vendor or new team member owns the risk. Unfortunately, that’s a culture where the blame game is commonplace.

Which organization do you think has a higher likelihood of success? Why would we—or anyone—want to work with an organization that doesn’t own the risk and have a culture of accountability?

Any mature organization is going to plan for risk and setbacks, because they expect them. They know there are factors outside of anyone’s control. They prepared ways to mitigate that risk. All of that comes from a culture of accountability. And that’s how custom software development projects succeed.

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