What-if Scenario Analysis

Anything can happen in project management. The unexpected situations does not only catch the project team off-guard but it also affects the entire project processes. The what-if scenario analysis is a project management process that evaluates different scenarios to predict their effects – both positive and negative – on  the project objectives. This is one of the modeling techniques used in the Develop Schedule process.

The analysis, as the name implies, asks the question “What if the situation represented by a certain given scenario happens?” Examples of scenarios that may affect the project management processes include delay of a major delivery and extending work durations. The introduction of external factors such as changes in the permitting process or strike among project team members are scenarios that can affect project management activities.

To compute the different scenarios, a schedule network analysis is often carried out. The outcome of the what-if scenario analysis is used to determine the feasibility of the schedule under unexpected and adverse situations. It also allows project managers to prepare contingency plans in order to overcome the impacts of the unexpected situations.

This term is defined in the 5th edition of the PMBOK.