Monday, 10 November 2014

Every Assumption is a Risk so Manage them!

As you undertake Planning and Estimating you are likely to need to make some assumptions and on occasions, you may need to make a lot of assumptions. Every Assumption should be considered a Risk (that it is incorrect) so you should be active in logging them and closing them down as soon as possible during the Project life-cycle. As I have previously said, Attack the Risks before the Risks attack you!

Every Project Assumption is a Risk

Log your Assumptions as you undertake Planning

As you plan you should document any assumptions you need to make to complete the plan. These can be significant assumptions fundamental to the plan being adopted or quite low level detailed ones.

You should have an Assumption Log, I typically have a separate sheet within an Excel RAIDs workbook. It should be located in the central Project File e.g. on SharePointHere is an extract from a closed Project within a Programme structure (so I introduced a Programme wide log with a Project column).


Project Assumptions Log

Validating your Assumptions

You should validate your Assumptions firstly with your Project team and especially for more fundamental ones, with your Sponsor / Project Board through your Project definition document.

I show any fundamental Assumptions within the body of the definition document and I often put the rest in an Appendix.

Every Assumption is a Risk

Every Assumption could be incorrect and thus affect the Plan. Therefore every Assumption is a Risk. I will log significant ones as specific entries in the Risk Log. As an illustration, here is the detail of the Risk I raised against Assumption #22 for the 11g Project shown above:
  • Description - Jmeter POC is not successful and scripts are not delivered as planned (Ass 22)
  • Impact - Delay if need to evaluate a different tool
  • Management - Accept. Contingency is manual testing, keep going with Jmeter with known deficiencies or stop & evaluate another tool
For the lower level assumptions, I typically have a catch all Risk along the lines of Assumption not specifically raised as a Risk is found to be incorrect

Monitor and close Assumptions and associated Risks as soon as possible

As I have stated in a previous post, Attack the Risks before the Risks attack you!. So look to confirm your Assumptions as soon as possible during the Project life-cycle and through regular review of your RAIDs, close off Assumptions and Risks entries as appropriate.

Conclusion

To produce a Plan is likely to require one or many Assumptions. Any Assumption represents a Risk to the Project as it may be incorrect. Therefore Assumptions should be logged, validated and actively managed until all are closed.

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