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Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risk on Software Projects by Timothy Lister, Tom DeMarco

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8. Quantifying Uncertainty

Software development is a risky business because the entire undertaking is shrouded in uncertainty. Anything you need to predict about a project will be to some extent uncertain. But exactly how uncertain?

We can look back at a given project and say about the project manager, “She really didn’t know when the work would be done.” But what does that mean? How uncertain was she? Maybe she was confident that the project would be done sometime in Month 6, and just a little unsure about whether that meant early or late in the month. Or maybe she was truly clueless. There is clearly a world of difference between these two levels of uncertainty. Think about it this way: You are a project manager running an effort that is scheduled ...

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