As a project manager, you may have heard of the “Cone of Uncertainty,” a concept that represents the level of uncertainty in a project as it progresses from initiation to completion. But, how do you explain this to a senior executive who wants a preliminary plan and timeline as soon as possible?
First, it’s important to understand that the Cone of Uncertainty is not a mystical crystal ball, but rather a visual representation of the facts. At the beginning of a project, there is a high degree of uncertainty about the project’s scope, schedule, and budget. As the project progresses, this uncertainty decreases and the project manager gains a clearer picture of what needs to be done, how long it will take, and how much it will cost.
So, how can a project manager navigate the Cone of Uncertainty and still provide a preliminary plan and timeline to senior executives? It all starts with due diligence. Before the project begins, a project manager should gather as much information as possible, including any project documentation, stakeholders, and the project’s scope, schedule, and budget. This information helps the project manager to create a preliminary plan, which can be updated as the project progresses.
Next, it’s important to understand that the Cone of Uncertainty does not mean that the project manager cannot create a draft schedule. In fact, it’s still possible to create a draft schedule even though the full details of the project are not yet known. The key is to understand that this schedule will likely change as the project progresses and more information becomes available.
Finally, it’s important to keep senior executives informed about the progress of the project. Regular progress reports can help senior executives understand the level of uncertainty in the project and how it’s being managed. For example, if a project manager updates the senior executive on the progress of the project, what has been achieved so far, and what still needs to be done, the senior executive can get a better understanding of the project and its level of uncertainty.
In conclusion, navigating the Cone of Uncertainty can be a daunting task for a project manager, but with due diligence, a preliminary plan, and regular progress reporting, it’s possible to keep senior executives informed and confident in the project. So, take a deep breath, keep smiling, and remember that a project manager’s role is to lead the project, not just to manage the details.