Define: Contingency

If you speak to a designer contingency means ‘lying about the deadline to make me work faster’. For bank managers and insurance brokers it’s hoarding cash for another crash. But what does it mean for those of us who want to make effective use of our time, no matter what our business?

It’s a familiar practice to build in contingency to large scale projects to ensure it’s delivered on time and on budget even when unforeseen issues arise but have you ever thought about building in contingency for your own personal goals and deliverables at work?

Some designers, developers and project managers I’ve worked with in the past have been brilliant at this: They consider the tasks they need to do and how long it will likely take them in normal circumstances and then estimate effort slightly longer/pricier than this.

It can feel dishonest when you are on the receiving end of an estimate which has been ‘padded out’ with contingency but you may need to ask yourself: “Is it wrong to plan for the worst case scenario?” In my experience, the worst case scenario is very likely to happen!

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

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