Project Management Institute

Managing project risks as knowledge gaps

Successfully developing new technologies--and using these technologies in new applications--involves managing the effort's risks. Achieving this effectively requires an understanding of the differences between what is known and what is not known. And it is in the unknown--the knowledge gap--where uncertainty, and thus risk, lies. This article examines an approach for controlling and reducing the uncertainty inherent in a technology project's knowledge gaps, for managing its risks. In doing so, it overviews the literature on mitigating project risk; it notes the significance of reducing--for a research and development (R&D) project--logistical and technological knowledge gaps. It defines knowledge gap and identifies the assumptions informing this definition, showing how project managers can non-probabilistically estimate knowledge gaps, listing also a nominal scale approach for developing a nuclear weapon.
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