Risk is to be expected. It is virtually impossible to
develop, modify or purchase new hardware or advanced software without
incurring technical risks. Technical risk is inherent in the development
process and frequently a companion to modifying or upgrading existing
products, as well as to the purchase of Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS)
products or Non-Developmental Items (NDI). However, risk that is known,
monitored, and adequately mitigated seldom interferes with successful product
There is considerable confusion within the acquisition community today
regarding the relationships of not only cost and schedule,
but also threat, technology, and performance, to technical
risk. While each does pose risks which must be addressed in Annex D of
the IPS and by industry policy, these are not technical risks as
defined in this guide.
We are also choosing not to address directly Integrated Product Development
(IDP) teams, Statistical Process Control (SPC), Concurrent Engineering (CE),
Total Quality Management (TQM), or other such efforts as they relate to
technical risk. Much has already been written about these subjects in
other publications and need not be repeated here.
Product success depends upon using proven technical management methods
along with established technical metrics during the entire development
effort. Technical risk -- which has a profound influence on product
success -- occurs where there are differences between the technical practices
of design, test, and manufacturing as implemented in your program and
corresponding proven best practices. Product success results from the
use of proven best engineering practices to reduce this technical risk.
When technical processes are managed using a methodology such as the one
presented in this guide, cost, schedule and other concerns quickly all into
Technical risk management cannot be accomplished by monitoring
schedules and budgets or by completing any number of checklists. If
you fail to manage technical risk, however, you can be assured that your
schedules and your budgets, too, will become sources of concern and that
repeated product success will elude you.