Project Management

Weather Forecasters: Terrific Project Managers

PMI South Florida Chapter

William lives and works as an IT project manager in South Florida, and is a member of the South Florida chapter of PMI. He created StatisticalPERT.com.

Like project managers, weather forecasters predict, or forecast, what will happen in the future. Both weather forecasters and project managers communicate uncertain, future outcomes to their respective stakeholder groups, so their stakeholders can make better, more informed decisions about the future. Whereas project managers create estimates about how long a project will take to finish and how much it will cost, weather forecasters estimate how hot and cold it will be later this week, and whether it will rain (or snow).

But weather forecasters have an advantage over most project managers when it comes to estimating future uncertainties. Weather forecasters forecast the future more than they predict the future, and forecasts are superior to predictions for aligning stakeholder expectations and improving stakeholder decision making.

Ever wonder why meteorologists are called “weather forecasters” and not “weather predictors”? While “forecast” and “predict” are often used interchangeably, Dr. Jeffrey C. Bauer—an economist who also formally trained in meteorology—explains the subtle difference in his book Upgrading Leadership’s Crystal Ball. Dr. Bauer defines predicting as “a specific estimate of the expected value of a key variable at a future point in time,” while forecasting is “an estimate…


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