Issues cause projects pain and so most projects put risk management processes and tools in place for anticipating problems, acting to prevent them, making decisions, and resolving issues if they arise. Issue prevention can be matured further through assumption and dependency management.
You’ve heard the phrase ‘when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me’?
Assumptions are expectations of what is or will be in place. For example, the skills and competence of people involved in a project, or the outcome of a future event. They enable you to proceed without full information or evidence at a specific point in time. But if left unvalidated or untracked, assumptions can cause major issues. The assumptions you make must be validated before the ‘specific point in time’ becomes ‘now’. So when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me, unless you and me talk.
Dependencies are the relationships between activities both within and external to a project. For a Project Manager mapped and agreed dependencies help in identifying the Project Critical Path, focussing on the right things at the right time and reducing delivery risk. Alignment of internal and external dependencies help IT and Business Leaders to focus their energy. Project Team leads should map out inbound and outbound dependencies to ensure their plans are valid and efficient, while team members with knowledge of dependencies understand how their work impacts on others. It helps avoid the ‘I am waiting for…’ and the ‘they haven't given me…’ conversations at your project meetings.
So, managing Assumptions and Dependencies as well as Risks, Actions, Issues and Decisions is a key part of project planning and risk management, encouraging forward-thinking and team-working, focussing management attention, and generating successful project outcomes.
Oh, and when there are decisions made, be sure to log them. It will help avoid burning countless hours of inbox searching
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