Managing Project Uncertainty

Managing Project Uncertainty LOOK INSIDE
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  • David Cleden
  • Series: Advances in Project Management
  • Dealing effectively with uncertainty requires today's project manager to be familiar with a broad spectrum of strategies, encompassing both 'hard' and 'soft' methods. This theme of unified thinking (i.e. the need to selectively draw upon a wide range of strategies in any given situation) will differentiate the book from its contemporaries. By picking up where traditional risk management techniques begin to fail, it brings together leading-edge thinking from a variety of disciplines and shows how these techniques can be used to conquer uncertainty in projects.

    The ability to make good decisions when faced with uncertainty is the real challenge. It is a universal truth that a decision is only as good as the information it is based on. But good information is often hard to come by, and all projects are vulnerable to the unknown and the unknowable. Thus, uncertainty becomes the sworn enemy of the project manager. Wherever we try to analyse, quantify, plan and act, uncertainty lies in wait to surprise us with its ambiguity and unpredictability.

    It lurks in every stage of the project lifecycle: in the planning (how long will this really take?), the initiation (this isn't the situation I expected!), the execution (who could have foreseen that happening?), and even the completion of a project (where are the expected benefits?). But managing uncertainty is a lot more than just applying risk management techniques. It requires a deep appreciation of how uncertainty arises and, by recognising its different guises, the appropriate strategies can be formulated. If we can learn how to reduce uncertainty, we can make better management decisions and increase the chances of the project succeeding.

    This book addresses five key questions:

    • Why is there uncertainty in projects?
    • How do you spot the symptoms of uncertainty, preferably at an early stage?
    • What can be done to avoid uncertainty?
    • What strategies can be used to deal with project uncertainty?
    • How can both the individual and the organisation learn to cope more effectively in the future?

    The reader is assumed to be a either a project management professional, or a senior manager looking for ways to improve project management strategy within their organisation. As such, a foundation in project management basics is assumed, although not essential. The book then builds on this by exposing new ideas and concepts, and shows how these can be harnessed to tackle uncertainty in its many guises.
  • Contents: Preface; Living with uncertainty; Uncertainty in project and programme plans; Problem-solving strategies for managing uncertainty; Knowledge-centric strategies; Anticipation strategies; Resilience strategies; Learning strategies; Glossary; Bibliography; Index.
  • About the Author: David Cleden is a senior consultant for Northgate Information Solutions, a provider of specialist IT services to the public sector.
  • Reviews: 'This is a must-read book for anyone involved in project management. The author’s carefully crafted work meets all my “4Cs” review criteria. The book is clear, cogent, concise and is a brave author who essays to write about managing project uncertainty in a text extending to only 117 pages (soft-cover version). In my opinion, David Cleden succeeds brilliantly...For project managers this book, far from being a short-lived stress anodyne, will provide a confidence-boosting tonic. Project uncertainty? Bring it on, I say!'. – International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

    'Uncertainty is an inevitable aspect of most projects, but even the most proficient project manager struggles to successfully contain it. Many projects overrun and consume more funds than were originally budgeted, often leading to unplanned expense and outright programme failure. David examines how uncertainty occurs and provides management strategies that the user can put to immediate use on their own project work. He also provides a series of pre-emptive uncertainty and risk avoidance strategies that should be the cornerstone of any planning exercise for all personnel involved in project work.
    I have been delivering both large and small projects and programmes in the public and private sector since 1989. I wish this book had been available when I began my career in project work. I strongly commend this book to all project professionals.' – Lee Hendricks, Sales & Marketing Director, SunGard Public Sector

    'The book under review is an excellent presentation of a comprehensive set of explorations about uncertainty (its recognition) in the context of projects. It does a good job of all along reinforcing the difference between risk (known unknowns) management and managing uncertainty (unknown unknowns - "bolt from the blue"). The author lucidly presents a variety of frameworks/models so
    that the reader easily grasps the varied forms in which uncertainty presents itself in the context of projects.' – VISION-The Journal of Business Perspective (india)

    Managing Project Uncertainty provides insights and strategies that can improve the chances of successfully managing uncertainty. Well-written, engaging, and surprisingly comprehensive given its length, this book is a definite must-have for project managers and anyone else who is serious about taming uncertainty.
    Project Management Journal

    ‘Cleden will leave you with a sound understanding about the traits, tendencies, timing and tenacity of uncertainty in projects. He is also adept at identifying certain methods that try to contain the uncertainty, and why some prove more successful than others. Those who expect risk management to be the be-all, end-all for uncertainty solutions will be in for a rude awakening.’
    – Brad Egeland, Project Management Tips