An engineer submitted proposed costs to the city council for some trail enhancements. He then noted that the biggest variable was the price for tree removal, openly admitting that the actual cost could be significantly higher than the amount that was currently listed.

All estimates are a guess and the final figures often vary from what is first approved. I like the engineer’s method of calling out the “biggest variable” as a way to help council members understand the level of risk that they are undertaking and to help them gauge total cost projections by monitoring the tree removal line item.

Think about how you present your proposals that, by their very nature, include uncertainties. Can you increase your chances of approval by breaking down the variables that could fluctuate and calling out the places that are the highest risk? Your ability to distinguish that all factors are not equal will demonstrate your expertise and understanding and give the decision-makers more confidence to proceed.


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