Published here June 2004.

Introduction | Pragmatic Methods to Control Risk
Employ Strategic Planning Techniques | Build in a Reasonable Time Contingency
Use Accomplishment Value to Supplement Float Analysis | Alphabet Soup? A Better Idea …
Build in a Managed Cost Contingency | Managing Technical Risk

Harvey A. Levine
Harvey A. Levine has practiced project management since 1962 and established his consulting firm, The Project Knowledge Group, in 1986. Levine is a leading consultant in the project management software industry. He is a Fellow and past president and chairman of the Project Management Institute.
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The following article is adapted from Chapter 6.2: "Practical Project Management: Tips, Tactics, and Tools", Harvey A. Levine. John Wiley & Sons, 2002, with the authorís permission.


Lots of things make me nervous, but none like the sight of a Sigma, that weird, E-like gizmo that signifies the sum of a series of often obscure values.

I was reminded of this phobia when I browsed through a series of articles on Decision Analysis. I'm wondering if there are other people like myself, who prefer a more visual and pragmatic approach. I'm not knocking Monte Carlo, Decision Trees, and other Probabilistic Techniques. It's just that I'm not mathematically oriented, and can't get comfortable with this stuff. I can't even pronounce Taguchi, let alone understand Taguchi methods. Can we take something called "Fuzzy Logic" seriously?

I wholeheartedly support the premise, presented periodically, that CPM, and its various network modeling techniques, cannot be relied upon as a sole determination of a project schedule, or the basis for schedule-driven resource and cost planning. Certainly, we must recognize that we can rarely capture, in such a CPM model, all of the conditions that can affect the project schedule.

Given the above, and the desire (necessity) to manage project risks, are there pragmatic means, other than these structured probabilistic techniques, that we can use to identify, quantify, and minimize risk? The answer, I believe, is a resounding "YES"! And these pragmatic means are available to anyone using today's typical project management software products.


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