The Importance of Project Planning

Cutting corners in project planning is a recipe for disaster, no matter what the reason. The initiation phase is critical to the success of the project as it establishes its core foundations. Effective project planning takes into consideration all aspects of planning including stakeholder engagement, benefits mapping, risk assessment, as well as the actual plan (schedule) itself. The three most cited factors for project failure are:

•lack of stakeholder engagement,
•lack of communication, and
•lack of clear roles and responsibilities.

These factors therefore, need to be considered very early on in the creation and planning of any project.

An article published in The Project Manager, by Angela Lecomber, looked at the dynamic challenge of planning in the world of new and complex projects. Below are extracts from the article. To read the full article, please follow this link:

The singular unifying characteristic new and complex projects possess is the inability for all stakeholders to ‘be on the same page’ in order to envision the same outcome. Good project managers therefore, will have identified all the stakeholders and ensure, through good communication, that stakeholders have clarity of the project’s objectives and outputs. Before detailed planning takes place, stakeholder agreement for the project’s outputs are obtained (this has long been recognised as a significant factor for project success).

Detailed planning then commences by breaking down the components into sub-components to produce a product (deliverables) breakdown structure as far as breakdown is feasible.

Here lies some of the complexity that today’s projects face. The next step is to produce further detail of the activities, tasks and dependencies required (the work breakdown structure), together with the sequencing of activities needed to produce the many sub-deliverables or component products.

Finally, we achieve a level of granularity needed to manage the project on a day-to-day basis. This is typically represented as a schedule.

The closing paragraph concludes that “... we need to resist the modern cultural problem of impatience that often leads to cutting corners at the planning stage.”

Although the article goes on to say that the above approach may still not be enough to ensure a successful outcome in new and complex projects (and looks at some recent developments and innovation in practical planning techniques for project management), it is important to at least get these fundamental processes right.

Units 1 to 3 of Priority Management’s Project Planning Breakthroughs programme precisely applies a robust framework for these fundamental processes, critical for project success:

Unit 1 – Genesis. This unit looks at how we clarify exactly what the project is all about and what it is to achieve. Through the use of an Objective Statement, we define the Project Charter along with the Scope Statement in a unique but powerful format. Along with this we examine the roles and responsibilities within the project team, especially the crucial relationship between the Project Manager, the Project Sponsors and Project Stakeholders.

Unit 2 – Design. This unit focuses on the requirements for both the conceptual and the detailed design. It is here that the fundamental elements of Performance Criteria are brought to bear. We determine “what” is going to be created before figuring out “how” to create it and what, in the final outcome, will we measure to determine our level of success.

Unit 3 – Execution Planning. In this unit we will show you how to develop a fully resourced execution plan complete with task duration, dependencies and schedule. The methodology used by Priority Management is Resource Loaded Critical Path Methodology, identified by the Project Management Institute’s College of Scheduling to be the most effective method of project planning^.

For more information on how Priority Management can help your organisation improve the initiation and planning phases of your projects please contact us on 02 9787 8744.

^ “Effect of Scheduling on Project Success” report by Dr Andrew Griffith of Independent Project Analysis, Ashburn, Virginia. Presented by Project Management Institute College of Scheduling, incorporating 494 completed projects across all industries with an average project cost of $24 million