Case Study

Reducing Uncertainty in Project Planning

Washington, D.C.

Project planning is difficult enough. Uncertainty and cognitive bias present risks in the planning process when clarity is required.

Uncertainty is inherent in risk management, especially when attempting to manage a project’s cost and schedule. In addition to inherent uncertainty, common cognitive biases (i.e., predisposed thought patterns that affect decisions and judgments) naturally affect planning processes. Without a dependable way to quantify uncertainty and account for bias, resource managers are at a disadvantage in creating accurate cost and schedule projections.

SPA developed an innovative approach for quantifying uncertainty and reducing bias called FORCAST (Fast and Objective Risk, Cost, and Schedule Technique). This suite of capabilities allows resource managers to determine critical path risks, relative risk of different project elements, and potential areas where mitigations may be found. Cognitive bias is reduced by combining Subject Matter Expert (SME) elicitation techniques with mathematical models. Results are defensible, repeatable, and easily understood. FORCAST can be used to refine existing cost or schedule estimates, establish new ones, or guide resource allocations across portfolios of capabilities.

FORCAST Highlights

Risk-Informed Schedule Development

FORCAST helped a Navy client add assessments of quantitative risk into a new program schedule, adjusting it to better reflect the likely durations of the program’s individual elements and establishing an analytically driven, defensible total program timeline that can be reassessed with consistency.

Risk-Conscious Resource Allocation

FORCAST assessments helped SPA clients determine risk-conscious allocations of resources across new efforts requiring investment, providing a consistent, traceable, and analytically sound framework for resource allocation across time.

Risk Avoidance and Monitoring

FORCAST support has helped clients across multiple U.S. Government departments categorize the relative risks to schedule and cost of a given activity, focus on risks most threatening to program success, and reallocate time or resources to reduce overall risk. FORCAST has proven to help government teams save time and avoid costly reallocation of resources later.

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