Improvement projects are bound to be subject to incidents that cause frustrations and
delays because they are not completely predictable. The most common approach used by project managers to handle this risk is to add contingency – usually additional time or cost. However this is not project management, this is project arithmetic.
Because it is not management, frequently the contingency time and costs get used up before the project delivers – the project is not under control. In addition, getting to deliverables to the time plan but later than might have been possible is good sleight of hand (project magic) but it is not good project management.
Instead of just adding time and cost:
1. Anticipate what might happen – understand what might cause it and what the consequences will be.
2. Plan your response – eliminate the cause; if not reduce the probability or impact; if not, plan the action you will take (this is what contingency really is). Think about taking the action anyway (mitigation) – sometimes it is better to take action and be certain rather than wait.
3. If something unexpected happens on your project; follow 2.
Now is the time for project managers to step forward and take control.