Projects at Work

Assumptions, Contraints: Traditional/Agile

Assumptions and Constraints are vital to understanding the state of a project — whether you are following a traditional or Agile approach. When and how you spend time capturing them is the primary differentiator.

Traditional Projects

As the expected outcomes of the project are defined, decisions will be made that will have a direct influence on the direction that is taken in defining the project. Two important types of factors can impact theses decisions: constraints and assumptions.

Constraints are real or arbitrary restrictions that have been imposed upon the project team by an external group and within which the project must be managed.  Examples of constrains include an imposed …

Agile Projects

In an Agile project we do not typically spend time creating an artifact that details all our assumptions and constraints the way we might in a traditional project. Part of the reason why you would want to do this on a waterfall project in the first place is that if you are going with a Big Upfront Design, then you need some way to tracking what you thought would be in place when you came up with the long term plan you shared with all the stakeholders.

Since Agile …


From the start of the development of the business case through its final review before the presentation, it is vital to identify and document any and all assumptions and constraints. Consider the following:

> Ensure you document what is constraining the initiative. If you have until January 1st of next year to implement a new financial system, that needs to be stated clearly. This schedule constraint will have a significant implication on the strategy of the …


> Question the approach. Regardless of what type of approach you are taking to manage your project, it is appropriate to have a discussion around when and how you will capture and track assumptions and constraints. There is no hard and fast rule here and each unique time on each unique project will have its’ own unique answer. You want to focus on making sure that the choices made are going to get you to a higher quality deliverable, which adds value to the organization, …

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