Project Management

Expert Judgment: What Does It Look Like?

We are often asked to place faith in “expert judgment” in project management, but PMBOK only offers a spotty explanation for what actually defines such judgment. Simply saying it is “judgment based on expertise appropriate for the activity being performed” leaves too many questions. It makes you wonder how to define expertise, which judgment process to use, and where to find the right expertise to help you moving forward. In a post for Voices on Project Management, Lynda Bourne gives some tips on how to find, use, and understand expert judgment.

Time to Call in the Experts

Finding an expert for your project can be tricky, in that most non-experts will give you recommendations with total self-assuredness because they think they know everything on the subject (and don’t). Actual experts are more likely to tone back the sureness of their opinions to suggestions since they are more aware of the complexity of the field and the situation. It’s the manager’s goal here to make sure their expert is a reliable one.

Bourne then goes on to state how important the judgment of project managers is:

The defining competence of every good manager, project managers included, is their ability to make effective and timely decisions. The challenge is balancing the decision’s importance, the timeframe in which the decision is required, the cost (including opportunity costs) accrued in reaching the decision and the availability of the resources used in the decision-making process.  

The key elements of effective judgment are:

  • Obtaining the best information available in the allotted time (you’ll never have all the desired information).
  • Balancing and weighing information within an appropriate decision-making framework.
  • Making the decision in the timeframe necessary.

What you ultimately want is to develop a framework that makes the most of expert judgment. You can find PMI’s recommended framework at the original post here:

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