Project Management

Using and Managing Contingency: Part I--Schedule Contingency

Harvey A. Levine

Managing projects involves balancing the objectives and constraints associated with time, resources, costs and scope. These are four key dimensions of any project, and each carries the risk of missing defined targets. In this first part of the three-part Using and Managing Contingency series, we focus on overcoming time (scheduling) constraints. 

The Role of Contingencies in Meeting Scheduled Dates 

More often than not, there are penalties involved in missing project targets. Some penalties may be spelled out in the contract; others may be more subtle and ambiguous. Whether it's a dissatisfied client or a significant fee reduction, however, there is always a price to pay for missing project targets. A well-planned and well-managed project addresses these issues by identifying potential schedule, resource, cost and scope problems -- and providing defined contingencies for each risk element. 

Quantifying Time Contingencies 

During the risk analysis process we identify risks, including their probability and projected impact. As part of the risk mitigation plan, we identify actions that can be taken to avoid or minimize risks (or the deleterious effects of risks), alternatives and decision points. 

Those of us who use the critical path method (CPM) to calculate a project end date may be lulled into thinking that the date that was …

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