Project Planning Insights And Advise!

Internet is full of such Project Life Cycle diagrams:

Project plan

They represent planning as one of the initial project stages followed by execution and then project closure.

Simple stuff!

But how true is it?

I find these diagrams incorrect and misleading!

Planning is not any specific stage/phase of the project. It is in fact an overarching activity that must be undertaken throughout project implementation.

Let us consider following examples:

Pre-Project

Following planning activities are required:

  • Plan activities for Business Analysis – Planning workshops/analysis meetings to elicit business problem, requirements and possible high level solution options in preparation of Business case
  • Plan activities for approval of Business Case approval
  • Plan activities for RFP/RFQ
  • Plan for Vendor selection and resourcing the project

Initiation Stage

Following planning activities are required:

  • Project Start-up – Resource planning based on initial scope and skill set required, communication plan, plan for project launch, plan budget, project schedule, plan approval process and control mechanisms for initiation stage

Delivery Stage(s)

Following planning activities are required:

  • Plan delivery of work packets from the Project team
  • Plan approval process and control mechanisms for Delivery stage(s) etc.

Project Closure

Following planning activities are required:

  • Plan for final project review and documenting lessons learnt, Plan to handover product to BAU (Business as Usual) team, plan support processes for the product, plan communication to all stakeholders for project closure etc.

Hence, planning is not a project stage!

I have come across many Project teams who burn time and effort trying to get a perfect plan by planning everything upfront. Detailed planning for every activity upfront is pure waste because ‘what you don’t know is what you don’t know’. It simply means you have too many unrealistic assumptions upfront! Time will prove you wrong!

There must be logical reasons for detailed planning of entire project upfront. For example:

  • It is directed by Project Board/Steering committee
  • Standard implementation – Many similar projects are implemented in past and variables are unlikely to move in this project

My suggestion is to consider project planning as overarching activity that must be undertaken throughout project life cycle. Timing your plan is the key!

Project planning

What do you think? Leave me a comment!

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