< Back to Blog

Risk Mitigation in Educational Game Development

Risk mitigation is a crucial aspect of any project development, ensuring that potential challenges and delays are proactively addressed to achieve successful outcomes. At Filament Games, we understand the significance of risk management in the software development process and take a comprehensive approach to identify, analyze, and mitigate risks at every stage of our projects

via Giphy

In this article, we’ll delve into our strategies for managing technical, design, and organizational risks, providing insights into how we optimize project timelines and ensure the delivery of top-quality educational products. By sharing our experience and methodologies, we aim to foster a deeper understanding of the importance of risk mitigation in the game development industry and how it contributes to the overall success of our endeavors.

Before we get into our risk mitigation strategies, take a moment to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about our business and the power of game-based learning! Interested in sharing this post with your colleagues? Bookmark it so you can find it easily later. 

When we talk about risk with our clients, we like to categorize risks into 3 buckets: 

  1. Technical risks are those risks that occur when we build or deliver software due to limitations in technology or development resources. For example, incompatibility with a new operating system update and downtime due to excessive database load would both be classified as technical risks. 
  1. Design risks are those risks that occur when the product does not effectively serve its intended purpose. Examples of design risks include when a child is unable to decode text on the screen to understand their next task or when a teacher is unable to understand what a child has learned by using the product.
  2. Organizational risks have to do with the human factors within the organization(s) building the product. These are the really fun ones! Some organizational risks could be conflicting goals amongst project stakeholders and key development team members’ illnesses.

Risks can have different impacts when they occur, and mitigations can be designed to reduce the impact or change the type of impact. For example, a risk that would by default impact schedule could be redirected to impact functionality and vice versa. So we take a very holistic and dynamic approach to risk management.

Filament implements Scrum practices on each project team with specific modifications based on lessons we’ve learned during our 18 years of operation. Many of our producers are Agile Alliance certified. While the entire team supports risk management, Filament assigns every project a producer who is the key driver behind coaching Scrum, mining for risks, and supporting iterative planning.

In addition to sprint reviews, we employ a dedicated quality assurance team to inspect builds to provide an in-depth analysis of product quality throughout the product development lifecycle. QA assessment reports are a key input to identifying design and technical risks. Our team follows ISTQB practices, and our leads are ISTQB-certified.

When we set a launch target, we are operating on incomplete information. We don’t know which risks will actually occur, whether or not they have all been identified, and we also start with an incomplete product specification. There are two related tactics we use to help set realistic launch dates during project initiation:

  1. Our first tactic is to benchmark your project with our database of 198 completed projects. This helps us build a realistic plan for the shipping product versus the high-level concept. However, there is room for professional judgment in how we align your project to our database, so we need to allow for misjudgment.
  2. This is why we also employ a second tactic of including reserved time, otherwise known as “slack” in the schedule. The amount of slack time is based on the overall project scope and the number of risks that we can pre-identify. It’s important, though, that this time is not automatically granted to the team. Otherwise, it’s not actually slack time. So we typically put the slack time in the gap between the Gold Release date and the Launch date. Now that you’ve read this, purge it from your memory! “These are not the sprints you’re looking for.” – Obi-Wan.

Finally, we’ve learned that the most important thing is for all project members (including client team members) to be regularly reminded of the top 3-5 short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals for the project. Our process has these types of reminders built in, but we need everyone to buy into this idea. If we are all aligned on goals, then risk management can be pushed deeper into the team, and this allows individual contributors to make decisions that maximize progress toward shared goals.

In conclusion, risk mitigation lies at the core of our development philosophy at Filament Games. We recognize the multifaceted nature of risks, from technical challenges to design and organizational issues, and have implemented a holistic approach to tackle them effectively. By combining the principles of Scrum and Agile, along with data-driven insights from our extensive project database, we set realistic launch targets and incorporate reserved time into our schedules to accommodate unforeseen obstacles. Moreover, our emphasis on regular communication and alignment of project goals among team members, including our clients, empowers the entire team to take ownership of risk management and make informed decisions that drive progress towards shared objectives.

As we continue to evolve and refine our risk mitigation strategies, we remain committed to delivering high-quality educational products while minimizing delays and maximizing project success. By staying proactive and adaptive, we embrace the challenges that come with game development and view them as opportunities for growth and improvement. With each project, we learn valuable lessons that enrich our expertise and allow us to innovate further. At Filament Games, we firmly believe that a robust risk mitigation framework not only ensures the smooth development of software but also leads to meaningful and impactful learning experiences for our users! 

Interested in working with us to harness the power of game-based learning? Contact us for a free consultation! 

Learn more about working with us:

© 2024 Filament games. All rights reserved.