Chapter 4

Dealing with a Project’s “Fuzzy Front End”

by Loren Gary

Project management used to be about driving out uncertainty. You nailed down all the deliverables at the outset and fine-tuned your specs so implementation could be as routine as possible. Sure, there were always a few surprises, but overall you had a pretty good idea of what to expect. In many of today’s complex projects, however— whether they involve new-product development, IT installation, or internal process improvement—uncertainty simply can’t be eliminated.

If you were retooling a shoe company’s manufacturing plant, says David Schmaltz, a Washington-based project management consultant, “perhaps only 10% of the work would be devoted to building the new production line, but ...

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