Assumptions in Project Management: Types and Examples

An assumption is a project factor that is considered to be real, true, or certain without empirical demonstration or proof. Realistically speaking, it is not possible to plan a project without considering assumptions.

The aim is to know how to spot assumptions and put measures in place so that if any of them prove to be false, the impact on the delivery of the project will be minimum.

Importance Of Identifying Assumptions

The identification of assumptions and risks assesses the proposed activities and goals and determines if they are achievable and realistic in a specific time frame and within the given available financial and human resources. 

The assumption has an important role in the development of a plan for risk management. As a project manager, you must manage and identify the maximum possible assumptions to increase the probability of successful completion of the project within budget and on time.

Include your team while you identify the assumptions. You must document assumptions in a way that helps the team members understand and manage them. Once you get a list of project assumptions, share them with the stakeholders. Validate your assumptions throughout the project and adjust if needed.

Assumption in project management

Who Is Responsible For Preparing And Maintaining The Assumptions Log?

An assumption log is required during the project lifecycle to develop an understanding of what assumptions have been considered during the planning and management of the project. Assumptions are the key information based on which project decisions and plans are made. The project manager is responsible for preparing and maintaining assumptions logs. The project manager creates the assumptions log during the project initiation phase while he creates the business case and uses the content for the project charter. Higher-level assumptions are used by the manager at this stage. The assumptions log is reviewed and maintained throughout the project lifecycle and lower-level assumptions based on products and tasks are also created.

As a project manager, you must manage project assumptions skillfully as they are a series of moving parts in the project and can affect the project’s success. You can make assumptions based on similar past projects and monitor them as potential risks. Where you find inaccuracies in the assumptions log, you must identify and correct them quickly and be sure to communicate and document the changes to stakeholders.

Maintaining log

Types Of Assumptions

The project managers commonly make the following project assumptions:

  • Schedule Assumptions

Schedule assumptions are also called time-based assumptions and they relate to the project timeline. They may change when the timeline of the project is changed. Some examples of schedule assumptions are specifying the durations, tasks, and dependencies to complete the project.

  • Technology Assumptions

Technology assumptions can influence the type of technology used for the project. It’s important to develop contingency plans to manage technology. Some examples of technology assumptions are specifying the platforms, software, and infrastructures to be used for a project.

  • Resource Assumptions

Project managers use these assumptions to allocate resources including workers, funding, and materials. It is a major part of project management and can affect the resources available to the project team. Resource assumptions include material, people, and facilities for the project.

  • Cost Assumptions

Cost assumptions are the projections made by the project managers regarding project cost. These assumptions can have an impact on the project budget and the whole project. Project managers must handle these assumptions by complying to cost management procedures and updating the budget.

  • Quality Assumptions

Quality assumptions include quality standards. They are important as the project duration can change depending on whether the project meets standards.


Difference Between Assumption and Constraint

Assumptions are built into the project plan and are believed to be true. Constraints on the other hand are those things that are known to be true and must be accounted for in the plan so that they can be worked around. Also, constraints are a factor that limits the options of the team’s schedule, resources, and time. Assumptions are typically riskier as they are uncertain. Project managers must invest their time to manage the risks of assumptions. Constraints are less risky as they are already known.

As a project manager, you must identify and document assumptions and constraints. Understanding assumptions and constraints and the difference between assumptions and constraints is important to make the project successful.

Assumptions and constraints

Difference Between Assumptions and Dependencies

Assumptions are conditions or events which are perceived to be true. They are stated without any evidence or proof. A project manager must make specific assumptions to continue any project as there are always factors that are beyond control. Assumptions do not have any support from facts. They are based on the experience and knowledge of the project stakeholders and the available project information. They have to be managed and documented throughout the project. On the other hand, dependencies exist between activities and are represented as a directional relationship. The activities are called successor and predecessor. They are separated by an arrow that signifies the direction of the dependency.

Maintaining log 1

The diagram above represents a project schedule and a finish-to-start relationship, one of the four possible relationships between activities. The common relationship is the finish-to-start relationship in which the start of a successor activity is dependent on the finish of its predecessor activity.

Your project can have external dependencies such as activities that your vendor or client is responsible for. It is important to take all activities in a project into account whether they are external or internal.

Examples Of Project Assumptions

Let’s have a close look at the assumptions that have an impact on the project. They can fall under a few categories, including budget assumptions, resource assumptions, and scope assumptions.

Some specific examples of project assumptions are as below:

  • The project manager will have access to both material and human resources to complete the project.
  • Project team members will have all the resources needed to complete tasks including software, electricity, and specialized equipment.
  • Costs of personnel will remain the same throughout the project.
  • Other resources and material costs will remain the same throughout the project.
  • The total costs of daily operations will remain the same.
  • The equipment will be provided in working condition.

What are assumptions examples?

  • Resources:

The end user will remain available during the time they test

Trainers will remain available during the training

  • Delivery:

Project servers will be pre-configured as they arrive

Devices will arrive on the delivery day and there will be no delays

  • Budget:

Budget costs and project costs stay the same

Internal training will be conducted and there will be no additional costs for training

  • Finances:

License funds will be provided by departments

  • Scope:

There will be no scope creep 

The project scope will not change after the stakeholders sign the project charter

What is an assumption log in project management?

An assumption log is a document utilized by the project team and the project manager to track, record, and capture assumptions on a project. Assumptions play an important role in projects and are considered information based on which project decisions and plans are made.

Assumptions need validation and follow-up to decide if they have an impact on the project. The assumption log created in the initiation phase becomes part of the project charter. At the initiation phase, high-level assumptions are recorded in the assumptions log, whereas lower-level assumptions are recorded during the life cycle of the project.

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