Stop Executing Start Project Planning!

Stop Executing Start Project Planning!

Is your project planning lacking resulting in poorly planned projects?

Are your projects constantly going over budget or over schedule due to poor project planning?

This article explains the importance of project planning and some of the key considerations when creating a project management plan and how much time it should take.

I often find myself in a clients office reviewing their project processes and the first thing I do is to review the project plan of a current project. In most cases, I find there is no plan or only the basics of a plan. I then hear explanations why they have not carried out project planning like, “the project is easy enough to manage with out one”, or “we are an Agile shop and work in highly iterative environments that can’t be planned’, or “there wasn’t enough time, we had to start straight away”…Does this sound familiar?

No Project Plan, Is Planning To Fail

I am scared… It is becoming too accepted that projects will run over budget and over time. How is this ever acceptable? Most projects I have been involved in were either time critical or budget critical and failure just wasn’t an option.

I also see a general lack of sufficient project planning, no project can be delivered if there isn’t a plan. Would you run a business without a business plan? No, so why are business running projects without proper project planning in place?

No project plan, is planning for project failure.

There is overwhelming evidence that supports, projects with more up front project planning have higher success rates, these projects are more likely to be delivered on time and on budget.

Benefits Of Project Planning

Like business plans, project management plans don’t need to be exhaustive documents, but they do need to be completed at a level sufficient to the project risks. A Billion dollar mining project might take years of detailed project planning, business change or process improvement projects might take many months, or a small project might only take a few weeks of project planning.

With project planning, it is the process itself that holds the greatest benefit, by thinking through each section of the project plan, you gain greater insights into the project’s risks and requirements.

It is the project planning process itself that holds the greatest benefit.

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Project Planning Should Address The Following:

  • Scope: – What is being done and what isn’t being done
  • Time: – What are the key milestones and constraints for the project to be delivered under
  • Cost: – What is the project budget, budget accuracy and contingency, what is the burn rate
  • Quality: – What quality requirements must be met, standards? sizes? colours? etc
  • Risk: – What can go wrong and how can it be avoided or the impacts reduced?
  • Procurement: – Are there any critical items that require procurement? How will this be done
  • Human Resources: – Are there any specific skills required for the project? How will they be resourced? are they shared resources?
  • Communication: – How will you update and communicate with those involved in the project and those paying for the project? This will need to be done, so it might as well be thought about and planned now.

As a general rule of thumb, I allow around 15% of the project budget to upfront planning. This ensures each project is adequately budgeting for planning.

Challenge Me!

I challenge you to audit one of your current projects, has sufficient project planning been done? Are you satisfied that the the project constraints and requirements have been documented? After reading the project management plans, can you determine without doubt what would constitute success for the project?

How did this go? If you found this, or the opposite, please share your thoughts in the comments below.


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Who Wrote This Article? ...(It was: Chris O'Halloran)

I'm "Chris O". I've managed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects since the inception of my career. I love helping others figure out the intricacies of project management on any scale. Come find me on twitter or google+

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  1. […] phase may reduce form ±50% to ±30%. Prior to executing the project and providing sufficient project planning was conducted, the project estimate may be as accurate […]

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