Could this happen to you? Ok, you’re probably not building bridges but how many times have you undertaken a project and found things a bit disjointed? You’ve had to switch between tasks or streams because you hadn’t planned out the dependencies or factored in lead times on other peoples deliverables. This happens to projects of all sizes.
One example of a very small project in my own business was setting up a new lead list for my new ebook “The magic ingredient in the project management mix….. And how to use it wisely”. It had been a few months since I last set up a list in my e-mail/CRM system. It involves creating various web pages, e-mails and settings. And I had forgotten some of the steps and the order of steps. The end result was a lot of flipping back and forth between systems and mind sets. I reckon it took me twice as long as it should have. I didn’t have a plan. I do now, for next time!
There are many reasons why a plan is essential:
- Can you do it in the timescales – any project sponsor worth their salt will want to see something that shows them you can deliver what you say you will deliver, when you say you will deliver it. A credible plan setting out all the steps will demonstrate this.
- Why will it cost that much – your project will need funding for resources, materials, 3rd party contracts etc. Your plan demonstrates how much or how many, for how long supporting that funding request.
- Why can’t you do it sooner – sometimes the business drive you to deliver the project earlier. Your plan, with its clear dependencies will be able to demonstrate either it can’t be delivered earlier or at least clearly highlight the risks or trade offs associated with early delivery
- You want us to do what – your plan is a key tool it getting the buy-in and commitment from your team. A plan they support with realistic estimates is much more likely to lead to a successful project.
- Have you covered all the activities – without a comprehensive plan, it’s difficult to tell if all the activity needed to complete the project is in hand.
How do you make sure your plan is credible?
The best place to start is the end! What is your project looking to deliver? What drives the quality or acceptance of that deliverable? If it’s a really small, short project like my marketing list example, there were some steps that had to be in the plan in the right sequence. However, other optional steps like 2nd, 3rd or 4th reviews of copy material could be compromised to speed up delivery.
Another example involves a major system implementation. The end delivery was new functionality. However, because if the size of the project, the ongoing cost of running the project became an issue so deadlines were set. This forced compromises on the plan cutting out activities and undertaking others in parallel. The end result was the plan broke and more time was lost in recovery and re-planning than would have been taken if it had been planned right in the first place. They didn’t have the time or money to do it right, but ended up taking the time and spending the money to do it twice (well three times actually. They didn’t learn the lesson first time round).
What planning nightmares have you encountered?
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