Planning vs. Action. What is your bias today? To spend time planning
can take away from getting work accomplished. But taking action without
planning sufficiently leads to unwanted results such as cost overruns,
late delivery, and the like. Furthermore, planning once and not adjusting
to reality can cause disjointed results. Project planning is not a one
time event; it requires attention to a living project plan.
Do you need to revise your planning document(s)? Try these tests:
- Big Chunks vs. Little Chunks -
Have you broken down your project - "chunking" to durations
of one- or two-week periods? If not, then outside of a long multi-year
project, you should work on breaking down your chunks into smaller units
that are planned in smaller time increments.
- Time since latest plan revision, or status
meeting - How long has it been since you revised your schedule
- in terms of the length of the project? If over 10% of the project
duration has lapsed, have a review of the plan - include knowledgable
team members if appropriate. If your project timeline has advanced 10%
since your last status meeting, make sure that your plan is still valid.
Base your assessment on the expected accomplishments, and also on feedback
from the team regarding new details information on progress and on unexpected
events. Revising a plan without reaching out to the team can be similar
to walking in a dark field using the memory of your last daytime walk-through.
- Updated Risk Assessment -
It is very hard to imagine yourself and your team in the future - weeks
or months out - and think of all of the risks you will face at that
moment in the project's lifecycle. Do you feel comfortable - and does
your team - with the risk management and mitigation plans in place,
or has it been a while since they were revisited?
- Slippage Recasting - All
schedules slip (or the maintainer is lying, some would say). As the
"actual" strays from the "planned" schedule, you
use up buffer time, or compress events that now need to happen faster.
Perhaps it is time to recast the schedule in light of the cumulative
slippages, changes, and new information on progress (positive and negative).
The project manager has three main areas to plan: Time, Scope, and Cost
(financial). Maintain updates to your planning - keeping current between
these main areas - to keep plans balanced, realistic, and in sync. Remember
that each project is unique, and tailor your planning and frequency of
updates based on the needs of the task at hand.
© 2004 P. Ford W orsham
- As most project manager-types will err more on the side of action,
it will be less likely that a leader or team will plan too much.
it can happen to you - remember that your schedule elements will
be reviewed and updated, and having too many details today can
become your administrative headache tomorrow.