3 minutes

Project managers always try their best to conform to all the elements and avoid uncertainty in project management with the hope to ensure success in their undertaking. However, nobody can predict the future and project managers are not spared by the fact that anytime, there will be challenges that may get in the way and cause some fear and uncertainties during the project development.

Facing uncertainty in project management

We can never be certain of the future but project managers overcome these challenges by planning ahead of time. They can start the project early so that they can address any problem that gets in the way and resolve it the soonest time possible. As the saying goes, without a plan, you are planning to fail. However, not all plans work which is why they say, if plan A fails, be ready for plan B.

At other times, proficient and experienced managers use decision milestones. With this strategy, they can anticipate possible risks and use risk management in preventing disasters from happening. However, even if these measures have been done, the project may still end up short of schedule, with excessive budget, and compromised outcomes.

Reducing Uncertainty in Project Management

Project managers provide estimates of the project that is more than its actual estimate of completion because they include some allowances for uncertainties to happen.

While it is almost impossible to eliminate uncertainty in project management, there are ways to reduce the elements. When there are only fewer elements to be considered in the estimation, the estimate becomes more reliable, and uncertainty becomes lower.

uncertainty in project management

Coping With Uncertainty

After reducing uncertainties, it is time to take a look at the remaining factors  and check on a few strategies to use depending on the constraints.

  • A fixed scope can give a fixed schedule by allocating about 30% of the schedule for uncertainties to happen.
  • In high-uncertainty projects, the scope can be adjusted and commit only to the schedule as this is the only thing that can be controlled.
  • In projects with the greatest uncertainty because the scope is unknown and there is no fixed schedule such as in reactive companies and departments like customer support, employees are trained to handle urgent matters quickly.


Risk Management

A project risk is an uncertainty that can be a negative or positive factor and it can affect the achievable performance to a significant extent.

Risk management involves determining those factors, planning how to avoid their negative effects or just simply accepting them if they are not affecting performance negatively.

Oftentimes, the project team draws up contingency plans for significant risks. From there, they set those plans ready and apply them when necessary.


Getting used to uncertainty in project management means learning how to manage risks — coping with uncertainty factors and reducing them. No project manager can predict the uncertainties that can happen but they can learn to gauge the uncertainty degree in the project and find ways to adapt or prevent them.

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