The planning process has been very well articulated in the PMI methodology which is a repository of all the knowledge gathered over the years & documented for everyone to benefit. Planning tells you how to take a project from what you have to achieve(objectives or scope) to the steps we need to take to realise them. You are, in planning, literally going through the steps of the executing process, but in your mind, & later putting all on paper.
Without visualising the journey & and the end result can we reach any destination?
So in essence, when you complete the planning you have “virtually” executed the project & and that is a huge achievement in itself! Thats why it is said that “well planned is half done”. The translation of that virtual completion to reality depends on the skill & and efficiency of your planning effort.
If you have done a thorough and exhaustive exercise there is a very good chance your project will have a successful outcome.
Now that we know why it is important to plan, lets look at the flip side of it. What happens when we don’t plan or do it in a shoddy manner? As a follow up question to this, what are we supposed to do to plan well for a project? Lets try to answer this in as simple a manner as possible.
The planning processes cover scope, schedule, cost, quality, resources, communication, risks, procurement & stakeholders in that order as then they would lead to the creation of baselines which are part of the Project Management Plan. Now initially a cycle of processes are gone through which include developing the WBS, the project Schedule, the Budget & also developing the plans for Quality, Resources & Communication management.
Next the Risk Analysis is done using a Risk Register to determine the contingencies for Cost & Time. The Risk Response Plans are also formulated for Eliminated, Mitigated & other risks.
The entire exercise is done by the stakeholders sitting together as a team to freeze the Scope(& avoid Scope creep during executing), get agreement on the Schedule & arrive at the project budget before going into Risk management. Iterations are carried out on the first cycle to arrive at the final Scope, Schedule & Cost after Risks Analysis as Risks impact can change these vital areas of the project. These final figures of Scope, Schedule & Cost are the performance measurement Baselines of the project & normally should not change & if they do will necessitate re-baselining of the project.
Creating Baselines is one of the main objectives of the Planning process in addition to Management Plans for all the Knowledge Areas which together is the Project Execution Plan. Such a plan requires a purpose & commitment from the project manager & team, but once done, can be the roadmap for project success.
Do you have a challenge with planning for your projects? Are your projects starting well & then taking off at a tangent? Why is this happening? Do you have other challenges in your projects? Would you like your projects to perform better than they are doing now? You will be surprised to know how many things you can do to scale up team performance even more! Turn your project managers into super performers by helping them adopt a Coach style of functioning!