Project Management

Contingency Planning for the Knowns

Al Taylor is an independent IT contractor in Ontario, Canada.

Many IT project teams do a good job of identifying project risks and applying associated contingency reserve factors to the project plan. The identified risks are often generic issues that challenge all projects; factoring these generic risks into the project is a useful part of the planning process. Samples of these generic risks are technical resource contention, subject domain knowledge gaps and access to business subject matter experts.

Unfortunately, project teams sometimes overlook the unique challenges that distinguish many applications and affect all projects undertaken in a specific application domain. Project teams should evaluate past project experience in the context of those known challenges and evaluate the potential affect on the planned project. If the project team does not address the known challenges, it risks experiencing the same unexpected delays as those that occurred in the past. The project team also risks being challenged by project stakeholders who have been involved in similar projects; it will be difficult to explain to these stakeholders why the project schedule does not account for the known challenges.

An awareness of challenges experienced by past projects will be particularly useful to project stakeholders who are new to the application domain--especially those who are involved in preparing the project schedule and managing …

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