Working on projects can be a tricky endeavour at times. As business analysts, we are often balancing the perspectives of multiple stakeholders whilst also working within strict constraints of time or budget. We collaborate and innovate to help ensure our projects and initiatives deliver solutions that enable value to be delivered within our organisations and enterprises.
Yet things rarely seem to go smoothly. So many things can go wrong in projects—perhaps a process or system is far more complex than we anticipated. Or perhaps an external environmental factor (such as a law) changes and has a knock-on impact. If we are working on an experimental or cutting-edge project then the risk might be very high indeed. We may sometimes be pioneers, travelling through unchartered territories, and we might not even be able to predict what the risks are (let alone mitigate against them!).
In situations like these, it is valuable to consider contingency planning. In doing so we ask questions like “What do we do if something so unexpected and so disruptive happens that the project is no longer viable?”. Yet the very idea of contingency planning is seemingly controversial. I recently saw a very interesting discussion on an online forum, and a view was expressed by a number of participants which I have summarised below:
“We shouldn’t ever think or even talk about contingency planning, definitely not on large scale radical projects. Success is the only acceptable option. If we let people know there’s a ‘Plan B’ they won’t buy into ‘Plan A’ and we’ll never succeed as they bale out too early. Set out to succeed, or don’t set out at all!”