Dear PM Advisor. Jun 16, 2014

Dear PM Advisor, We are documenting our assumptions as we plan but we’re concerned. A lot of the assumptions we are making won’t be proven true or false until we are halfway through the project. Management has challenged these and told us they won’t approve the project unless we have answers to all these questions.

What can we do?

Nervous in New York

Dear Nervous,

Project Planning is the process of predicting the future. But management typically wants our predictions to be 100% accurate while we are dealing mostly in hopes and dreams. We can never be 100% accurate in our predictions so we use past data to try and improve our predictions.

Along the way we need to make assumptions to continue planning. Since we don’t know which of two or more paths will prove to be correct, we assume the most likely path to be true, treat that as a fact and continue planning accordingly. This allows us to complete a project plan, along with all the assumptions that got us to that point.  It is extremely important that management buys off on all these assumptions when they approve the project plan. If they disagree with an assumption, they need to let us know. We’ll pick one of the other paths as true and adjust the plan accordingly.

Some of these assumptions will not be proven to be correct until the project is underway. That is a reality of life. Your management needs to accept this reality and move on. The only way you can determine the validity of this assumption is to proceed to the point where it will be proven. So they need to either allow you to proceed or, if they are too unsure about the project, they need to reject the project’s progress to the implementation phase.

Good luck,

PM Advisor

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