How to use the ROAM matrix for effective risk management in a SAFe organization?

Risk management is a crucial aspect of any project or business activity. A structured, methodical approach to risk management can help anticipate and mitigate potential problems, thus minimizing negative impacts on corporate objectives. A popular method for risk management is the ROAM matrix, which offers a simple and practical approach to assessing and prioritizing risks. In this article, we’ll explore the ROAM matrix in detail, its benefits and how to use it for effective risk management.

The ROAM matrix is a visual tool for classifying risks according to their probability and impact on the objectives of a project or activity. The acronym ROAM stands for :

  • Resolved: the risk has been dealt with, the threat has been avoided or eliminated and is no longer a concern.

  • Owned: Someone has taken responsibility for managing the risk in order to resolve or mitigate it at a later date. For the moment, there are no defined action plans to mitigate this risk.

  • Accepted : The risk is shared and understood by all. It was agreed that nothing more could be done. If the risk occurs, the release may be compromised.

  • Mitigated: the team has a plan if the risk occurs, and measures have been taken to mitigate the risk, either by reducing the threat, or by reducing the effects. A carrier is also assigned to this risk.

infographie template risque roam matrice How to use the ROAM matrix for effective risk management in a SAFe organization?

How and when to implement the ROAM matrix in an SAFe train?

The ROAM matrix is an effective tool for assessing and classifying risks in an SAFe train. But how do you put it into practice? And when is it best to use it?

During the PI Planning stage of a SAFe train, the ROAM matrix is used to identify and analyze the risks and potential problems that may be encountered during the realization of the user stories and Features that the development teams will carry forward into the next PI. This ROAM matrix can be materialized by a traditional physical or digital Board (iObeya,
Miro
Draft.io, Jira etc.).

Here’s what your teams need to do during PI Planning :

  1. Identify risks throughout PI Planning by drawing up an exhaustive list with the participation of all team members.

  2. Assess, rank and prioritize risks with the ROAM matrix. Once the risks have been identified. you can evaluate and classify them using the ROAM matrix. This assessment should be carried out in collaboration with your team and train members, as well as the relevant stakeholders. You can use the ROAM matrix to determine the impact and likelihood of each risk, as well as the measures to be taken to mitigate them.

  3. Identify a carrier for each risk.

After PI Planning:
  1. Acting on priority risks: After PI Planning, it’s time to take action. the risk owner must draw up an action plan, defining the measures to be taken. He will have to work on resolving this risk during the Sprints.

  2. Follow-up: Use synchronization meetings such as the Scrum Of Scrum or the PO Sync to monitor progress in dealing with risks arising from PI Planning.

In conclusion, the ROAM matrix is an effective tool for managing risk in an SAFe train, particularly during the PI Planning process. By following the steps above, you can assess, rank and prioritize risks in a collaborative way, involving members of your team and train, as well as relevant stakeholders. This will help you minimize risks and optimize the performance of your SAFe train.

matrice roam risque template miro How to use the ROAM matrix for effective risk management in a SAFe organization?
Template de matrice ROAM de gestion du risque d'un Train SAFe pendant le PI Planning sur un board Miro

Template for the ROAM risk management matrix of a SAFe Train during PI Planning on a Miro board.

Risk management on Jira for an SAFe train

To implement ROAM risk management in Jira, follow these steps:

  1. Create a Jira project dedicated to risk management. Or use your Jira Project containing the Program Board of your SAFe train and add a new Kanban to it.

  2. Create a Jira Kanban adapted to your Risk Management with 5 columns: New, Resolved, Owned, Accepted, Mitigated.

  3. Create your risks using an existing Jira IssueType of type Risk. Or create a new Issuetype with the right workflow to meet the requirements of step 2 (a Kanaban with 5 columns).

  4. Enter risks on Jira according to this model:

    • Title :[Risk-issuing team]: risk summary (@risk-issuing teamor person)
    • Description : IF < Risk factor >…, THEN < Potential impacts > Example: If resources do not arrive for PI XXX, then the ABC team will not be able to work on Feature: ID-1254.

    • Fix Version
      or Affect Version Program Increment identifier (PI SAFe).
    • Component : Or any other Jira field you use to identify your teams impacted by this risk.
    • Assignee : the bearer of the risk (if known).
    • Priority (multiple choice): Very low, low, medium, high, very high.
    • Impact (multiple choice) : None, minor, moderate, significant, important.
  5. Document this process on Confluence to explain the importance of completing each of these fields.

  6. Train the project team and stakeholders in the use of the ROAM matrix in Jira.

By using Jira for ROAM risk management, you can monitor the status of risks in real time, facilitate communication between stakeholders, and take action to mitigate risks as early as possible.

roam board draft io How to use the ROAM matrix for effective risk management in a SAFe organization?

The benefits of the ROAM matrix

The ROAM matrix offers several advantages for risk management, including the following:

  1. Simplicity : The ROAM matrix is a simple, easy-to-understand tool, making it an effective method for assessing and ranking risks.

  2. Visibility : The ROAM matrix provides a clear overview of the risks identified, their probability, their impact and the actions to be taken to manage them.

  3. Prioritization : The ROAM matrix enables risks to be prioritized according to their probability and impact, enabling efforts to be concentrated on the most critical risks.

  4. Responsibility : The ROAM matrix clearly assigns responsibility for risk management to specific individuals or teams, making it easier to monitor and follow up actions taken.

Conclusion

The ROAM matrix is a powerful risk management tool, offering a simple and effective approach to assessing, classifying and managing the risks associated with a project or activity. Using the ROAM matrix, you can prioritize risks, clearly assign responsibility for managing them, and take appropriate action to minimize their impact on your objectives. Make sure you regularly monitor identified risks and update your actions accordingly for effective risk management throughout your project or business.

Suggested reading

Here are two books available on Amazon on risk management and the ROAM matrix:

  1. “The Standard for Risk Management in Portfolios, Programs, and Projects” by the Project Management Institute. This book is a practical guide to risk management in projects, with concrete examples and practical advice on setting up a risk management framework. It also covers the ROAM matrix and other tools for assessing and managing risk.

  2. “Agile Enterprise Risk Management: Risk-based Thinking, Multi-disciplinary Management and Digital Transformation” by Howard M. Wiener. This book covers the fundamental concepts, tools and techniques of risk management.

This post is also available in: French

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Ahmed BEN SALEM

Ahmed BEN SALEM

Strongly involved in Agile methodologies, I have held the roles of Scrum Master, Product Owner and Release Train Engineer for SAFe, Scrum and DevOps projects. My approach focuses on people and stakeholder collaboration, creating environments conducive to innovation and performance.

Since 2016, I have successfully led several Agile software development projects for companies of all sizes, including Odigo, Orange and PSA. My solid experience in Agile methodologies, in particular Scrum and SAFe, has enabled me to work with multicultural teams from countries such as the USA, India, Vietnam and Morocco.

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