Reducing uncertainty requires considerable time and effort. It requires attention to detail, clear communication and consensus building. It is not easy, but it can be managed and reduced with the right kind of implemented framework.
Uncertainty with scope is common and expected with even the brightest and most promising startups or global business. Fortunately, it’s something our team at Handsome has seen plenty of learned to work through.
There are a variety of ways to manage against scope uncertainty; one of the methods we have used here at Handsome is widely referred to the Cone of Uncertainty. It is an easy concept to help everyone visualize where we are in the estimation process and helps drive home the point that while a certain level of commitments can be made early, some variability will remain, but that is okay. The important part is to develop sufficient consensus up front so that everyone involved is comfortable with proceeding.
From the onset – what needs to be built, what are the required functionality, who will create it and how long will it take are big unknowns. This is okay. This is just the starting point.
The largest unknowns in terms of quantity and significance are common in the beginning. However, early on in the timeline, more information is shared, learned and agreed upon, allowing for the amount of uncertainty to drop considerably up front.
Questions we like to collaborate with our clients to find the right starting point include:
• What are we asked to create?
• Who are we creating it for?
• What is the best, known alternative to the problem we are trying to solve?
• Is Handsome the right fit for this challenge?
• How can Handsome help? With Product? Brand? Design? Development?
Sound decision making that can eliminate the number of unknowns is the best way to reduce uncertainty during the estimation process. As a counter to this, commitments made too early in a project risk jeopardizing the estimation process. Understanding where the stakeholders are in their understanding of the scope and how that differs from others, or the group, are a key area of focus to help creating a successful scope.
There is plenty of additional information available on this topic. To start, check out the resource here.