Dealing with uncertain factors in the project

Dealing with uncertain factors in the project 07.05.2018 - Increasing project complexity has been a development in project management for many years. Project managers must therefore be able to deal with highly complex contexts and complex projects. Energy-saving concepts, environmentally friendly technologies and increased demands on project performance make a competent project manager irreplaceable, especially since increased complexity naturally goes hand in hand with more responsibility and tasks.

While experts, architects and customers only have to look at the area of a project assigned to them, the project manager is entrusted with keeping an overview and keeping an eye on all aspects. This is not an easy task. The degree of complexity of a project increases uncertainty. The larger and more complex the project, the longer the list of risks and things that may go wrong. In addition, all these risks have numerous influences and effects on other project areas. Social, technical, organisational and financial relationships must first be identified, analysed and then evaluated and monitored in order to identify and minimise the risks to the project. Finding the right solution among thousands of possible solutions is not necessarily an easy task, especially when you consider that the factors of the project are constantly changing.

Uncertainty demands complex thinking
Constant uncertainty and changing requirements are something that project managers must deal with as confidently as possible. The strategies for dealing with this are very different. A sharp mind alone is not enough to keep an eye on uncertain factors and react appropriately to them. In many situations, software also reaches the limits of its ability to calculate and clearly determine things. Imagine a computer that can do thousands of calculations in seconds: impressive! However, he can only solve this task correctly if he knows all parameters and can follow the mathematical laws. As soon as too many unknowns appear, project management software also reaches its limits. When the human component comes into play, the software can no longer clearly predict what will happen. How will a customer react? Which material will the construction management decide on and when will we finally get the building permit with the last change? Despite machine support, people must continue to be able to deal with these uncertainties.

Unusual demands are made
As a project manager, you should be prepared for anything. Flexibility, the ability to rethink quickly and above all creativity in dealing with new aspects are required. Today, when agile methods are commonplace, rigid adherence to strategies and methods has become an outdated approach. Project managers are expected to deviate from standard methods if necessary and to break new ground. They should also learn unusual methods to use in case of doubt. The approach to complex projects with many uncertainties is manifold.

Chance or risk?
Uncertainty always means both opportunity and risk. Many project managers, especially those who like to work with fixed structures and strive for the highest possible security in their projects, tend to perceive uncertainty as a threat. Of course, as a project manager you are always attentive and should quickly recognize all risks. But the balancing act between eliminating risks and identifying opportunities is one of the special skills that project managers need to develop over the course of their careers. Agile project management embodies this direction. Many people find it difficult to approach projects step by step, to divide them into phases and to open up the possibility for complete turnarounds, new strategies and creative methods after each phase. The farewell to the project schedule, which accompanies the entire project, is, however, a necessary farewell.

Taking advantage of uncertainties
A strategy for dealing well with uncertainties is therefore to see them as an opportunity if possible. Think through all the possibilities that even the unknown offers. Define and take all measures to avert possible risks and realize potential opportunities. View and analyze any unexpected turn that is important for the project to use for the project. Improvisation is one of the soft skills in demand. Be an improvisation artist who reacts to his audience and shows a different trick depending on the clientele and mood. Developing the ability to improvise and intuition for the right strategy is something many successful project managers have in common.

Certainly a certain talent is a prerequisite for this, but there are numerous techniques and methods to react appropriately to the most diverse situations.

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