You will inevitably make several assumptions when starting a new project or programme and it’s important to track these in an assumptions log. Sometimes you can even make assumptions without knowing or understanding it.
Some potential assumptions you could make include a belief that your company has the relevant skillset, or that you will receive funding, or even that a given supplier won’t become insolvent.
Failure to understand your assumptions could mean that a held belief turns out to be false. This can have catastrophic effects on your project or programme.
Thus, any assumptions you make must be recorded, monitored, and where possible, validated to determine whether the assumption is true or false. Our free assumptions log is a great place to start.
Difference between assumptions and dependencies
Assumptions and dependencies can seem very similar, but there is a crucial difference.
An assumption is something that you believe to be correct without any real proof of it being so. This is often derived through experience.
Dependencies refers to task scheduling and planning and doesn’t contain the ambiguity of an assumption
Check out our free dependency log here for more information.
Points of Interest
These relate to the blue boxes in the template – please delete them
1) ‘Project’ Column – If you’re working on one specific project then remove this column. Or you can change it to read ‘area’ or ‘project stage’ etc.
2) Formatting – Be sure to format the document to your brand colours and replace the freepmotemplates.com logo with your own.
3) ‘Impact is assumption is incorrect’ Column – Try to include as much information as possible here, but giving a vague answer (such as ‘expensive’) is better than nothing
4) ‘Criticality that assumption is valid’ Column – This will be derived from point 3 above and is a simple high, medium, or low selection. This allows you to filter the document by criticality
5) ‘Actions to validate’ Column – These are the steps that the owner of the assumption will take to validate whether the assumption is true or not
6) Updates – The blue section of the Assumptions Log is for updates. Assumptions should be reviewed frequently and updates submitted here.
7) ‘Assumption Valid’ Column – Fill in the column When you know whether the assumption is valid or not
We recommend that you regularly review the assumptions, either as part of another meeting or in a separate session. It’s easy to think that assumptions rarely change, but this isn’t true.
As your project or programme develops new assumptions will inevitably be made either by you or your team. These must be added to the assumption log.
Additionally, old assumptions may no longer be valid, or false. Often you only need to scratch the surface to determine this. But many project managers skip this step and are later sideswiped by their false assumptions. Determining this early could save you a lot of time, money, and effort.
During your review of the assumption log, you should create an open and honest atmosphere that encourages your team members to speak out and offer information.
Got a recommendation? Then please get in touch with me here to let us know! We’re always looking to improve our documentation.