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Managing Risk and Quality

The secret of a successful project is to manage quality up and risk down. Fine words, but the project manager needs a well-founded and practical way of doing this, and in particular a way of planning their project that is focussed on risk and quality.

Too many project planning approaches concentrate on just the estimating and network aspects of planning. This is of little value if the project is given the wrong shape or the wrong activities are chosen in the first place. The approach taught in this course builds the project from an analysis of the specific risks to be faced.


This course normally runs once a year.

Course dates

2nd September 2024Oxford University Department of Computer Science - Held in the Department15 places remaining.


At the end of the course, students will be able to

  • criticise an existing project plan;
  • articulate the principles of risk management;
  • be able to set appropriate quality levels for a project;
  • define and initiate quality control activities;
  • draw up a resource plan for a project;
  • apply accepted principles for monitoring progress and (re-)forecasting outcome


We examine what we expect from a reliable plan for a software development project, and the demands placed upon a planning approach. We sketch out a route map based on the management of risk and quality.
We take apart the concept of risk and build a process for identifying, analysing, and planning the management of risks during the lifetime of the project; we extend this to the management of opportunities.
Process models
We examine how to get the right shape for a project: one that reduces the level of risk exposure to an acceptable level.
Quality in software
We examine the notion of quality in software, defining the terms quality achievement, quality control, quality preservation and quality assurance. We see how a Quality Management System can provide the organisational framework required.
Quality achievement
We develop a procedure for analysing the system that we are building, and for choosing methods that will give us the best leverage.
Quality control
We look in detail at how to set the right quality levels for our project, and how to define quality control (verification and validation) activities to check that these levels have been achieved.
Quality preservation
We examine the idea of preserving quality through sound change management both during and after development.
Building a resource plan
This section brings together the outputs of the analyses of risk and quality and shows how they can be used to draw up a full and realistic resource plan.
Run-time monitoring
We look at straightforward and reliable ways of checking progress and re-forecasting outcome based on our planning so far, and deal with the problems of measurement.
We stand back from the detail and extract a simple step-by-step procedure for planning a project.
Workshop exercise
The final section is a case study in planning the management of risk and quality. This may be focused on a project from the attendees' own areas of interest.


An understanding of frameworks for quality is beneficial: Software Process Quality and Improvement is an ideal companion for this course. If you plan to study both subjects, you may attend them in either order.