The Project Management Monster in the Closet – Assumptions Projects must be based on assumptions when there is not enough information. This could be because we don’t have the ability to accurately predict the future. This is a valid source for necessary assumptions on projects in most cases. However, we still try to improve at making them and eliminating as many as possible. However, I have noticed something with people making assumptions and in general. The number of assumptions that are not necessary for communication has an opposite relationship to its quality. As communication goes down, assumptions go up.? Vice versa. This is what I see almost every day in every project that I have worked on. A group of people is discussing a question, or someone is trying out their own approach. Rather than going out and talking to customers and key stakeholders….talking to the end users and their own team members….for many people it’s more comfortable to make an assumption about what is needed. It may not be obvious ….?, but let me emphasize the part about team members. Different team members may interpret requirements, initial designs, and interface specifications in different ways. One person may implement Y while the other implements something that interfaces with Y(iThink), instead of the way Y was built. It is our responsibility as project managers to eliminate all unnecessary assumptions whenever and wherever they are found. Now is a good time to refocus your attention and be more aware of any assumptions that may arise. You can use your project manager’s radar to spot any signs of unnecessary assumptions and ask questions. How to spot assumptions
- Are you familiar with the expression “I think”? Ask them questions to clarify their knowledge. Find the answers.
- Be agile and test-driven. Continuous integration and test will expose these assumptions early on.
- When discussing a detail of implementation, you hear a pause or lack confidence from a member of the team.
- Keep a list.? Ask your team questions such as “What questions or uncertainties do we have about the implementation?”
- Ask about obstacles. Ask what obstacles are holding people back in a scrum fashion. This will lead to many assumptions.
How can you spot and eliminate assumptions in your projects? photo by Kevin Dooley