The Consensus Model for Reducing Risk

Reducing project risk related to technical risks, schedule risks, and budget risks is the best way to work with a constricted budget. The use of independent verification and validation using voluntary consensus standards provide a way for doing this.

In former posts I have described a number of models that organizations could use whenever they were ready to begin using voluntary consensus standards (OMB Circular A-119). Today I will describe the use of the consensus model.

Successful implementation of the consensus model depends on whether its use has a champion. The champion , whether at the level of the CIO or lower, introduces the idea to relevant managers. In an organization with an enterprise- level CIO and division-level CIOs, the relevant managers are the division-level CIOs. In another organization the relevant managers may be the IT Program Officers or Program Managers.

Once the group agrees that the use of voluntary consensus standards such as ISO, IEEE, ANSI will be beneficial for them and the organization they will request that the CIO issue a policy statement to that effect. They will also direct staff to prepare implementing procedures and guidelines to accompany the policy statement. In addition to the need to achieve consensus on whether or not to use voluntary consensus standards the consensus model includes the need to achieve consensus on the implementation procedures and guidelines.

Just as each of the previously described models had pros and cons so does the consensus model. On the plus side, the consensus model ensures that all stakeholders have a sense of ownership in the process to be followed. This is especially true if the model is used for the development of the implementing procedures and guidelines as well as for the selection of the model. The consensus model may reflect the requirements of small as well as large and complex projects.

On the con side, consensus may be achieved only with the inclusion of a waiver process that serves to dilute the potential impact of using the voluntary consensus standards. The time required to implement this model may be the longest of any of the models due to the stakeholders’ struggle to exempt their area of responsibility or to identify criteria for implementing exemptions.

Previous posts have described the directive model and the project model while this post describes the consensus model. A forthcoming post will describe a hybrid model. One of these models should work for your organization.

Contact the IV&V GroupĀ® for more information about implementing the right model for your organization.