In the last blog, I talked about the problem of having one overall plan for multiple audiences. This is, in my experience, one of the most common problems in project management and one that is not found in many pm handbooks.
Of course, there are other problems with planning a project and this blog contains some of the more common ones that I have come across. As mentioned previously, if you develop a good plan then you have a fighting chance of delivering the required project outcomes. Conversely, if you start your project with an unrealistic plan then the chances of project success is very small.
I have heard this said to me on a number of occasions when I have been asked to do a project health check.
I am almost embarrassed mentioning it but this phenomenon does happen.
When I have quizzed the project manager on this, the conversation goes something like:
“You haven’t got a plan for your project”, DW
“I know but I haven’t got time to produce a plan”, PM
“But, you will fail if you have no plan”, DW
“I know, but I still have no time to plan”, PM
Time taken in planning will save a lot of time and money later on!
Don’t plan alone!
You may have been part of a project team where the project plan has mysteriously been developed by someone with little or no consultation with any project team member or stakeholder. Does one person really have the knowledge to plan with confidence and accuracy? Apart from very small projects, the answer is ‘no!’ The result of this ‘dictator’ planning process is that the plan is often unrealistic and the team has absolutely no buy-in to this plan whatsoever.
You will get a far better result if you plan collectively with people who can contribute to the plan. Of course, the other real benefit of planning with other team members and stakeholders is that they will buy-in to the plan which in itself gives the project a greater chance of success.
If you have members of your project team working full-time on your project, plan for a reasonable amount of ‘dead-time’ . Some project managers plan for 5 days a week availability on their projects. This is not realistic as people have meetings, sickness, and other ‘stuff’ to do even when working on a project full-time. If you plan for 4 days a week availability then your project team are more likely to achieve the progress the ‘jointly’ developed plan requires.
Problems with planning part 3 including:
Sir John Harvey Jones –
“Planning is an unnatural process… It is much more fun to do something. And the nice thing about not planning is that…Failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression..!!”