Risk Assessment Tool

February 23, 2017 Martin Nichol

At my current client, we use a Change Request approach to Maximo changes.  A Change Request is created describing the new functionality desired.  Developers work on these changes in separate Subversion branches.  Change Requests are chosen for a Release, then merged together, tested, and deployed.  The merged changes are then merged back into our Trunk and the process repeats.  Change Requests are not necessarily deployed during the next Release.  It can be several Releases before a Change Request is deployed.

When it is decided to include a Change in a Release, a risk assessment is performed.  Two common questions are “What has this change touched,” and “Does it require regression testing.”  The intent is not to get into the details of the change, but to provide a rough overview that can help QA get an idea of the scope of the change.

We have recently introduced a Risk Assessment Tool modeled on the FAA’s Flight Risk Assessment Tool.  It is available on GitHub.  We are looking for a better acronym than MRAT or RAT when referring to this tool.  I welcome any input on the matter.

It is simply a list of development activities that are weighted depending on their potential impact.

code_changes.png

Once development on a Change Request is complete, the developer creates a copy of the Risk Assessment Tool specific for their change.  The developer goes through and places a “1” in the Applicable column for anything that applies.  An overall score for the page is calculated automatically.

The development activities are then grouped together into more general types of changes and provides an overall score.

summary.png

The end product is an overall summary of what has been changed (e.g. Screen, Database, Coding, etc.) and a score that gives an idea of the size of the change.  A bigger number means a bigger change means bigger risk and implies more testing.

The Considerations column contains notes to the developer to check common mistakes associated with a change.  For example, a consideration for adding a database column that is part of an Object Structure is that it has the potential of affecting external systems that consume that Object Structure.  The consideration column also contains notes to QA about what should be tested.  When an Mbo save method is modified, the Consideration is that testing should include saving a record.

The Score calculation is simply Weight × Applicable.  The common usage is to place a “1” in the Applicable column.  In the beginning we toyed around with the idea of using larger numbers to represent larger changes.  For example, if two Mbo classes were modified, then place a “2” in the Applicable column.  We felt this had the potential of overweighting changes.  We decided to go with ranges — 1 file, 2 to 5 files, etc — each with a different weight.

Where the FAA Flight Risk Assessment Tool gives meaning to the calculated scores — 0-10 Not Complex Flight, 11-20 Exercise Caution, 20-30 Area of Concern — we haven’t yet determined appropriate ranges and what those ranges might mean, so any outside thoughts or input would be welcome.

There are some obvious areas that are missing from this tool, such as Work Flow.  We don’t use it, so we don’t have a section for it. So any thoughts or input would be welcome here as well.

The Risk Assessment Tool is a simple approach that gives an overview of where changes took place and how much of an impact they might have.

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