Browse Definitions :
Definition

cone of uncertainty

The cone of uncertainty is a graphic depiction of the increasing accuracy that is possible for estimates as the details of a project become more known over time. Project managers and developers use the cone of uncertainty to guide estimates manage expectations.

During the development process a project starts out with a large degree of variability. An estimate may be accurate but that cannot be assumed. Generally, any estimates will be very loose and may be wildly inaccurate. As decisions are made, research is conducted and more of the project is completed, the degree of variability decreases. This is why project might start out with estimates varying by plus or minus 40 percent at the start but see that variance decrease over time. Understanding this variability is key to developing realistic project plans. 

The most common representation of the cone of uncertainty is in the form of a graph with time on the horizontal axis and estimate variance on the vertical. As the graph is followed to the right with the progress of time, the lines representing the range of overestimation converge to near zero. The large end of the cone – where uncertainty is greatest – is at the start of the project timeline and the small end of the cone at the end, where all details are known.

The cone of uncertainty was originally created by the American Association of Cost Engineers to assist estimations for engineering and construction. The tool is applied to a variety of phenomena such as hurricanes, for example, in which the system’s course is less certain when predicted further into the future and more certain as time goes on and the system gets closer.

This was last updated in March 2015

Continue Reading About cone of uncertainty

SearchNetworking
  • network packet

    A network packet is a basic unit of data that's grouped together and transferred over a computer network, typically a ...

  • virtual network functions (VNFs)

    Virtual network functions (VNFs) are virtualized tasks formerly carried out by proprietary, dedicated hardware.

  • network functions virtualization (NFV)

    Network functions virtualization (NFV) is a network architecture model designed to virtualize network services that have ...

SearchSecurity
  • MICR (magnetic ink character recognition)

    MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) is a technology invented in the 1950s that's used to verify the legitimacy or ...

  • What is cybersecurity?

    Cybersecurity is the protection of internet-connected systems such as hardware, software and data from cyberthreats.

  • Android System WebView

    Android System WebView is a system component for the Android operating system (OS) that allows Android apps to display web ...

SearchCIO
  • privacy compliance

    Privacy compliance is a company's accordance with established personal information protection guidelines, specifications or ...

  • contingent workforce

    A contingent workforce is a labor pool whose members are hired by an organization on an on-demand basis.

  • product development (new product development -- NPD)

    Product development, also called new product management, is a series of steps that includes the conceptualization, design, ...

SearchHRSoftware
  • talent acquisition

    Talent acquisition is the strategic process employers use to analyze their long-term talent needs in the context of business ...

  • employee retention

    Employee retention is the organizational goal of keeping productive and talented workers and reducing turnover by fostering a ...

  • hybrid work model

    A hybrid work model is a workforce structure that includes employees who work remotely and those who work on site, in a company's...

SearchCustomerExperience
  • Salesforce Trailhead

    Salesforce Trailhead is a series of online tutorials that coach beginner and intermediate developers who need to learn how to ...

  • Salesforce

    Salesforce, Inc. is a cloud computing and social enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider based in San Francisco.

  • data clean room

    A data clean room is a technology service that helps content platforms keep first person user data private when interacting with ...

Close