Every project has certain assumptions and constraints that need to be considered while planning, these are inputs for many processes and they need to be identified and defined at the start.
Assumptions are the events or circumstances that are expected during a project’s lifecycle.
For example, at the beginning of any project, we assume that:
- The teams working on the project will perform well constantly.
- Everything will happen as planned and on time.
- There will be a consistent supply of materials/ resources.
There are different types of assumptions based on market conditions, consumer behaviours, and competitor activities etc. Assumptions are based on information and experiences; but the numbers alone are not enough, thinking beyond the numbers is critical.
Assumptions are believed to be true and are crucial for the risk management plan, any variances in what was assumed add risk to the project, therefore a consistent review is necessary to fully understand the possible impact.
Constraints are the limitations of a project and the project team needs to work within them. There are always certain limitations around the budget, product specifications, and time etc. Constraints can be imposed by the organisation, clients or even the government, examples of these are having a small team for a big project, not being able to import cheaper raw materials from any specific country etc.
The major project constraints are budget, resources, schedule, scope, risk and quality. Identifying constraints before finalising the plan or starting the process avoids wasting resources and time.
There are two main types of constraints, business and technical:
- Business constraints are high-level constraints; they are about the investment, time and resources etc.
- Technical constraints are about the technical specifications and limitations.
The planning process becomes more effective when assumptions and constraints are incorporated into the plan. Incorrect assumptions and inability to identify the constraints are potential risks for any project. Regular monitoring, review and assessment of these factors can reduce the deviation of actual output from desired outcomes.