Members Only Logo  

or Subscribe by Email by entering your address below:

Powered by FeedBlitz
Learn about Subscriptions Follow me on Twitter!

The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mike Wyatt's Cone of Uncertainty

Anyone providing any sort of IT assistance to organizations encounters this problem: you've spent an hour or so discussing some emerging need with your users, when they ask,"So what exactly will you do to solve this problem? When will it be done? What's it going to cost us?" And you have no idea yet; you've barely scratched the surface. How do you answer?

Over the weekend I ran into the weblog of Mike Wyatt, who blogs about identity management solutions at Sun Microsystems. Last Monday Mike posted a piece about what he calls the Cone of Uncertainty model, and provides a tool that shows users how the level of uncertainty - uncertainty about requirements, technology, timeframes, and budgets - is steadily reduced as a project lifecycle unfolds.

image of cone, showing uncertainty decreasing with each step in impelemtation

Mike points out that failure to recognize the level of uncertainty by vendors, consultants, and users leads to unkept promises, missed deadlines, and cost overruns.
Even with good change control processes and governance procedures, what both the vendor and the customer think the project will be in terms of cost, time, and functionality at the beginning of the project and what it actually turns out to be at the end of the project will at times differ by a wide margin.
The Cone concept and accompanying graphic strike me as effective tools to educate user communities about the advantage of postponing firm ideas of budget and schedule until a suitable stage in the process. This in turn will lower the pressure on implementors to make promises they very likely will not be able to keep. The events on the horizontal axis of the Cone graphic should be replaced with the steps in your particular implementation methodology and trundled in to your first project meeting!
Tagged: ,

Labels: ,

Comments on "Mike Wyatt's Cone of Uncertainty"


post a comment