What is a Project Assumption
Project assumption is the events or conditions that are most likely to occur when a project life-cycle takes place. It is also deemed as an element in the planning phase of a particular project that is assumed to be considered as true, actual, or certain despite the lack of evidence or proof according to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) 6th Edition. Assumptions are usually made based on the hypotheses established from past experiences and knowledge. They bring a degree of risk to the project because they might or might not be correct or realised. When the project assumptions turn out to be incorrect, they might also become restrictions or constraints, resulting in major project delays and may cause project limitations. The project assumptions that are commonly made by the project managers are as followed:
- Resource Assumptions
- Cost Assumptions
- Schedule-Based Assumptions
- Quality/Specification Assumptions
- Technology Assumptions
- Location/Environment Assumptions
Examples of Projects’ Resource Assumptions
- All the materials and equipment needed will be obtained and available to be used when conducting the project. However, there might be a lack of materials and scarcity in the equipment needed for the project life-cycle and this can be a hindrance in the project management and implementation to take place efficiently because not everything needed is available.
- The people involved in the project might not be in their best condition or health throughout the project life-cycle because sickness and fatigue might result in a lack of efficiency when carrying out the project. This may violate the assumption that all of the people involved will be doing their work efficiently throughout the project.
- All the resources allocated are sufficient for the project life-cycle. However, the project could still be at risk if the contributions from resources are insufficient. This may compromise the timeline, scope, and end goal of the project as the resources allocated do not meet the assumptions made during the project planning.
- All of the people that are involved at the beginning of the project will remain and stay in the project until the project is completed. However, it is crucial to take note that there may be workers that may withdraw from the project throughout the project life-cycle.
- All the resources (equipment, tools, or materials) will be in good condition to be used throughout the project life-cycle. However, there might be issues where the resources malfunction or damage as the project progresses.
- Members of the project team would have access to the tools they need to execute their respective tasks on schedule, including advanced equipment and software as well as electricity during working time. However, the tools may not be enough for everyone to access.
How to Manage Projects’ Resource Assumptions
- Conduct assumption analysis for the risk management planning to come up with a backup plan if the actual plan did not work such as the ways to manage the lacking of materials that are deemed necessary for the project, thus reducing the risk that may affect the efficiency of the project.
- Collaborate with the Human Resource department in catering to the well-being of the workers involved in the project in ensuring that their condition and performance are at the best.
- Project assumptions should be recorded in a separate project assumption log or in any structured document in tracking and managing the insufficiency or issues related to the project resources (equipment, materials, tools, and people).
- Collaborate with the Human Resource department in monitoring and supervising the staff members and workers involved in the project by keeping track about their performance and creating a contract beforehand where they are not allowed to leave the project before it is completed unless provided with strong justifications.
- Always monitor all of the resources and keep in track of the condition of the resources to ensure that the resources are at the best condition since it may affect the performances’ quality of the task in the project.
- Problems or suggestions should be communicated and directed to the project manager as soon as possible so that action can be taken and issues can be avoided.
Examples of Projects’ Cost Assumptions
- The cost spends for the purchase and maintenance of the resources will stay within the planned budget by the project manager. However, if the resources depreciate or malfunction, the budget may exceed the actual cost assumptions since it requires repairing of the resources.
- Salary costs for those working on the project will be within the expected assumption. However, in some cases when the deadline is nearing, the salary costs will alter since it requires the workers to work overtime.
- Wages of any subcontractors and indirect costs such as space rental, utilities, and office supplies will stay within the expected budget. However, the cost may change as time passes depending on the economy.
- The total cost of daily operations will remain unchanged. However, in certain cases, the cost may vary as time passes depending on the economy.
- The project’s material, equipment, and resources costs will remain constant when purchasing. However, the market price might be exceeded or reduced since the market price is often not fixed.
- The total budget of the project will not exceed and can cover back the capital used.
How to Manage Projects’ Cost Assumptions
- Always monitor and check the condition of the resources (equipment, materials, or tools) and ensure that all staff members and workers used the equipment according to the user manual and did not violate it.
- Create accurate cost projections where these are critically important in the budgeting phase of a project.
- Design the short-term and long-term budgets to aid the formation of contracts where this may usually keep the overall project cost to be within the budgeted cost, thus avoiding the project to be over the actual budget.
- Other stakeholders must verify broader project assumptions such as the budget and the cost of the project.
- Always keep in track with every purchase of resources or materials and study the market price to study the most profitable time to purchase the goods.
- Determine precisely where and when the shift may occur so that it is easier to assess the effect on the project’s progress and in making necessary adjustments.
Examples of Projects’ Schedule-Based Assumptions
- All the equipment or materials are available when it is needed according to the schedule planned. However, there might be a situation in which the materials are insufficient for the project when needed.
- The finances of the project are within the budget for the specific time as scheduled by the project manager. However, it is crucial to take note that the condition of the equipment and the country’s economy might alter the expected budget.
- All the staff members and workers can complete their respective tasks within the schedule planned efficiently.
- The supplier will deliver consumables on time. However, there might be cases where the delivery process was delayed and the consumables did not arrive as scheduled.
- All relevant stakeholders will come to the next meeting as scheduled. However, there might be instances at which the stakeholders are unavailable to attend.
- The expected project’s timeline can be met and the project will complete within the expected time.
How to Manage Projects’ Schedule-Based Assumptions?
- Create the Assumption Analysis to identify the potential risks if the project life-cycle did not meet the expected schedule to avoid minimal loss or waste that can affect the project negatively.
- Have alternative options in dealing with uncertainty and risks if the project life-cycle did not meet the expected schedule or budget that has been planned within the project timeline.
- Always monitor and analyse the project’s timeline to keep track of the progress of the tasks performed by the staff members and workers.
- Deliver the project in accordance with the scheduled timeline and try to minimize the effect if the timeline cannot be met by having a backup plan.
- Use project management tools to visualize and map out the project’s timeline to identify dependencies and draw out the constraints and assumptions of the project.
- Have contingencies plan in place to cover for any resource constraints that might cause the project’s timeline to be pushed back.
Examples of Projects’ Quality/Specification Assumptions
- The quality of all of the equipment or materials is in good working condition throughout the project life-cycle. However, for some materials or equipment, the quality of the goods may depreciate thus affecting its’ working condition.
- The scope and specifications of the project will not undergo changes when the project takes place. However, when conducting the project, there might be cases where the scope and specifications need to be altered to cater to the requirements and needs of the project.
- All the goods supplied by the suppliers are in the best condition and with the most preferable quality.
- All the staff members and workers possess good qualities of the required skills in the project. However, the work quality of the workers may resonate differently as they possess differences in skills, training, and experiences.
How to Manage Projects’ Quality/Specification Assumptions
- Document and monitor the project assumptions in the Project Assumption Log to maintain and monitor the quality of the resources.
- Draw out the project’s assumption analysis to plan, predict, and monitor the scope, specifications, and changes that might occur when conducting the project.
- Maintain good communication and keep in track with the suppliers when dealing in purchasing the resources.
- Collaborate with the Human Resource department to provide training for the workers involved in the project to ensure that their performance can be improved and polished.
Examples of Projects’ Technology Assumptions
- The process of software development of the project will be able to meet the need of the stakeholders and customers.
- The IT support for the project will be able to cater to technical difficulties such as system error, network congestion, connection problem, and technical errors.
- The data have been automatically updated in the data inventory and all information in the data inventory is synchronized.
- All the physical devices such as laptops, computers, mobile phones, printers, and more are in good condition to be used when conducting the project.
- The system of the project is compatible, functions properly and stable for the project to take place smoothly.
How to Manage Projects’ Technology Assumptions
- Always refer to the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) when designing the software project and critically analyse the need analysis to identify the needs and comments from the customer.
- IT Managers should monitor and supervise the support provided by all of the IT support staff members.
- Data Centre Managers should monitor and supervise the data in the inventory where all the data related to the project must be ensured to be updated automatically and are synchronized.
- The Project Manager should check the condition of all of the physical devices to ensure that everything is in the best condition to be used.
- System Administration should monitor and supervise the compatibility, security, functionality, and stability of the system in the project.
Examples of Projects’ Location/Environments Assumptions
- There are minimal network congestion and strong internet connection in the location where the project is conducted. However, sometimes, connection disruptions might occur due to other conditions that may be related to the environment or surrounding of the project.
- The project location is fixed throughout the project life-cycle and will not change as the project progresses. However, there might be conditions where there may be a need for the project members to work outstation when necessary.
- During the rainy season, the project can still progress as usual and the project will not be affected by the changes in weather.
How to Manage Projects’ Location/Environments Assumptions
- The Project Manager should monitor the network and internet connection in the project settings and come up with at least one contingency plan to cater to the technical difficulties in the project’s location.
- Develop the project plan accordingly and check beforehand if there exists the need to move the location of the project as it progresses.
- Identify and manage as many assumptions to increase the probability that the project will be completed successfully, on time, and within the estimated budget despite the weather changes.