I visited a friend in Brussels at the weekend and learnt about a project she’s working on. It was reassuring to hear that she is having the same project concerns as me – small team, changing requirements and flexible timescales. I’m not alone…
It is always difficult to find out exactly what the requirements are, as often people don’t know. I was browsing the list of white papers at softwareceo.com today and it struck me how complicated it is to quickly get exactly the information you need about anything. The site even has a listing for a white paper about how to write white papers! I think the difficulty of finding out information is what leads people to make assumptions, which in project terms can be really dangerous.
Assumptions can be:
- things that you are taking for granted will stay the same
- things you have to assume because you don’t yet know for sure.
In the first case it is worth documenting these assumptions in your Project Initiation Document even if everyone accepts that is the way things are. Just because something is like that now does not mean it will stay that way. The second type of assumption lets you to plan more accurately but planning based on assumptions almost always results in a potential issue. Stick it in the issue log, allocate an owner and make them responsible for it. Once you have a concrete answer, you can replan as appropriate.