With the range of project planning tools increasing all the time, we have clear opportunity to build better project plans.. There has never been more choice in how you can document and use your project plan. But seemingly, just like the wealth of choice we have now in Television, Films and other forms of entertainment activities, the explosion of options means we are less content and find it more difficult to make a selection. The tool you use should be appropriate to your project approach and be flexible and usable. But the act of planning is more important than the tool used to produce it.
Establish the Basics
The project plan should be your model of how you intend the project to proceed. Time based for the schedule but reflecting how and when the objective can be achieved. The model will need to change as the project changes to ensure the plan is still viable. Build a model that provides benefit to you and the project team but also can be presented in a meaningful form to all stakeholders. Get all the basic building blocks right and the project plan is an asset.
Engage with the team
Review Review the plan and adjust and evolve it with the team that will deliver it. It must be the team’s plan. Not the Project Manager’s wish list. Once you have a draft plan verify it with those that will need to do the work and those that will receive the output from the project. The team are better placed to agree estimates and give you timescales.
Get the team and the customer to agree to the plan. Get them to own the outcome and support the timescale and budget.
Keep the Plan alive
Always track the plan. No project will run exactly to plan and failure to track means the plan becomes out of date and less useful. Failing to track can soon render the plan useless and waste the effort taken to produce it. Part of that tracking must be adjusting for changes that have been agreed or issues that will arise.
Reflecting real progress means you have a wealth of information to tune the future events. A well maintain and managed plan should gain in value. Where the plan has value and reflects the projects true path , it will also inspire more confidence from stakeholders and increase the likelihood of success.
Get all stakeholders owning changes once agreed. This will maintain the plan as a control and practical guide for the project and help to avoid conflicts.
As Project Management approaches change then planning needs to adapt to that change. Better project plans are a must.. More than ever in an environment that wants to drive change quickly, it is important that you only work on the elements that give a positive return of your efforts. The plan needs to be fit for purpose and not over engineered. But having said that in being appropriate to the task it needs to provide enough of a road-map to be useful. Simply put “do enough and no more.”