<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=349935452247528&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Search
word-map-thumb

The Alternative Board Blog

Project Management for Small Business: Project Plan Assumptions

Jan. 23, 2013 | Posted by The Alternative Board
Undistributed_middle_argument_map

Project Management for Small Business XI

Because the project manager wants to get on with a project, the last two sections of a project plan tend to be the risks and the assumptions. These sections are often started from a previous project plan, and adjusted for the current project. It’s my experience that in a small business project plan, very little thought is given to risks and assumptions.

All about assumptions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 If you're an experienced manager, you've definitely run into the following scenario numerous times:

Customer: My team has started to review the new system. We couldn't find the yield management module. What is the status of it?

Project Manager: Yield management is out of scope.

Customer: You've got to be kidding! The system is useless to me without yield management.

Project Manager: But, it wasn't in the requirements and you approved the requirements. Iassumed that you knew it was out of scope.

Customer: Yes, but I assumed yield management was included. It's so important to our business.

In this scenario, the project manager may indeed be in the right.  But this is a situation where being correct is not much of a consolation.  Here, everyone has lost.  In small business projects, important assumptions need to be stated, and be to very clear.

Project assumptions consist of external project dependencies as well as scope related clarifications. Regarding scope, you can include the important out of scope items either in your Project Scope section or in the Assumptions section.  The location doesn't really matter, as long as your assumptions are clearly stated in the project plan. A cautious project manager may not want to call attention to assumptions; for fear that the project will not go forward. But hiding assumptions is a mistake, not being forthright will often land you in the scenario described above.

Want additional insight? Download Productivity Hacks for Business Owners 

DOWNLOAD

For the assumptions section of your project plan, try to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What things might they expect that are not included? Make sure to write down these expectations. I would also recommend assembling the project team, just like for developing the risks, and going through an exercise of developing assumptions. This will not take a lot of anyone's time, and will ultimately achieve a better result.

Here are some questions to ask when you develop assumptions for a project plan:

  • What items might my customer assume are in scope, and which items are out of scope?
  • How much time is required from each team member? Time estimates should include quality assurance, training and for support.
  • How hands on do I expect the customer to be? How much time will be devoted to customer support?
  • What external vendors are required? What additional funding will be needed for vendors?
  • What is our internal budget availability?
  • Are there technology dependencies that involve assumptions? For example, is a new release of underlying software needed that includes a new feature?
  • Once the project is implemented, how much effort is required for support? Who will do provide the necessary support?

Finally, Occam's Razor is a good principal to follow in developing assumptions. Generally, Occam's razor advises that the right solution is often the simplest. More formally, the principle states that one should not make more assumptions than the minimum needed. That is, make sure that the important assumptions are stated clearly, and are not buried in a bunch of unimportant assumptions.  Small business project managers will do well if they keep Occam's Razor in mind.

 

Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board

DOWNLOAD

Written by The Alternative Board

Related posts

8 Business Lessons From TAB Members
Sep. 29, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
Business lessons learned from the real world are far more valuable than those learned in school. As a result of the pandemic, we have learned more in the past year than at any other time. Faced with...
Part Two: Benefits of a Peer Advisory Board: Board Members Tell All
Sep. 7, 2021 | Posted by Phil Spensieri
In Part One of Benefits of a Peer Advisory Board: Board Members Tell All, you learned a little bit about what it was like to be a TAB member, from the time commitment it takes to the many reasons why...
How to Reduce Organizational Complexity and Boost Productivity
Sep. 2, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
  As in our daily lives, the world of business has grown a great deal more complex in recent times. Generally speaking, every organization finds itself challenged by innovations in technology,...
Why Your Business Needs Standard Operating Procedures
Aug. 26, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
Running a business is a costly, time-intensive process. Costs and time can grow exponentially if an organization lacks a system whereby products are made, or services rendered in a consistent manner....
5 Ways To Tell When Your Business Needs a System Overhaul
Aug. 17, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
We all know that businesses need to accomplish many tasks each day for their companies to function. And they need to complete those tasks efficiently, smoothly, and quickly to thrive. As an...
Part One: Benefits of a Peer Advisory Board: Board Members Tell All
Aug. 9, 2021 | Posted by Phil Spensieri
Over the last 15 years, I have dedicated my professional career to helping business owners design and implement strategies with sound, reachable growth and profitability goals. I have worked with...
3 Ways to Successfully Transition Your Business To New Owners
Aug. 5, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
Transitioning your business is one of the most critical and life-changing decisions you'll make as a business owner. If you handle the process well, you will be helping not only yourself, your team,...
Tips on Grooming Your Business Successor
Aug. 2, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
It may not seem possible now, but the day will come when you no longer run your business (either as a CEO or business owner). Recognizing this inevitability is the first step towards selecting and...
What to Tell Your Employees When Selling the Business
Jul. 29, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
Selling a business is often a complicated process. One complicating factor for any CEO or business owner is determining what to tell employees about the pending sale, as well as when and how much....
When It’s Time To Sell Your Business
Jul. 15, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
After all the hard work that goes into starting and maintaining a business, deciding years later to sell that business can be among the biggest challenges in a CEO or business owner’s career. You’re...