- third?" Sometimes, project managers want their technical staff to work on problems first. Only then, when the technical staff can't solve the problems, do the PMs want to be involved.
- "Would you like us to create a parking lot of risks?" A parking lot is a list of risks that you can't deal with now, but you don't want to lose track of.
- "What kinds of consequences do you want to know about with risks? Are there some consequences you're not as concerned about as others?" Risk evaluation is about consequences. Some consequences are more important than others, so understanding which consequences worry your PM is helpful.
The Pathological Case
If your project manager says that knowing about potential problems before they start is not important, you can try to elicit more information: "Oh, I'm surprised. Can you tell me more about that?"
Your project manager may not want to discuss this with you because you're a tester. If your role is a problem, then your project manager doesn't understand the role of testers. Explain that testers are the best risk identifiers the project manager has-that testers illuminate product and project risk with testing.
You have another alternative, especially if you want to stay in your current job. You can write the risks in a memorandum for the record. When risks become problems and the organization suffers, you can show that you acted responsibly on behalf of the organization.
If your project manager still can't or won't hear about risks from you, choose whether it's time for a new project manager, or a new organization. Project managers and organizations that don't actively manage risks don't last long, but working on their projects can feel eternal.
Summing It Up
Conversations about risks tend to be difficult. You don't want to be perceived as a "Chicken Little," but you also don't want to ignore potential problems. Learn how your PM wants to discuss risks, and then help your PM learn about risks. And don't be afraid to walk if your PM ignores risks.
I thank the following people for their helpful reviews and comments: Dwayne Phillips and Brian Lawrence.