Planning the project properly, documenting the plan professionally and then implementing the plan successfully are likely the source of most project success and failure outcomes. While project planning is one of the most fundamental skill sets in project management, the requisite processes and actions are not well developed or successfully implemented. There is value in the planning process and value in implementing a well documented plan. This was discussed in the prior post in this Subject Series.
Learning from the experiences of others is an effective method for skill set development. Many organizations that use project management on an ongoing basis close out projects with a compilation of “lessons learned.” These firms have found value in studying the issues that have emerged in the past.
This and several following posts focus on issues in planning and problems that have their source or root cause in planning.
This post is the sixth in a series of discussions regarding current challenges being encountered in today’s project management. More specifically, we have titled the series PROJECT MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES, since we intend to focus heavily on the managerial aspects of program / project management. This post addresses the Project Plan Issues.
Authoritative information and guidance regarding project planning comes from many sources. A few that may be obvious include:
- Project Management Institute [PMI]
- Construction Industry Institute [CII]
- The Chartered Institute of Building [CIOB]
- Association for Advancement of Cost Engineering International [AACEI]
- Many colleges, universities, community colleges, trade schools and other educational organizations.
Sources that are used in this post are:
- Project Management, A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling; Doctor Harold Kerzner
The use of team and stakeholder workshops can be an effective mechanism for achieving a well-developed Project Management Plan. Start with the fundamentals and process. Incorporate project initiation documentation. Use lessons learned on similar projects. Emphasize team participation.
The use of team and stakeholder workshops can be an effective mechanism for aligning, selling and implementing the Project Management Plan. Obtain an audience with all stakeholders. Start with the Project Sponsor. Sell the Project Management Plan in detail. Use the workshop to probe for disagreement or lack of support. Obtain buy-in for the plan.
Kerzner elaborates on a view of why plans fail, typical reasons which he indicates include:
- “Corporate goals are not understood at the lower organizational levels.”
- “Plans encompass too much in too little time.”
- “Financial estimates are poor.”
- “Plans are based on insufficient data.”
- “No attempt is being made to systematize the planning process.
- “Planning is performed by a planning group.”
- “No one knows the ultimate objective.”
- “No one knows the staffing requirements.”
- “No one knows the major milestone dates, including written reports.”
- “Project estimates are best guesses, and are not based on standards or history.”
- “Not enough time has been given to proper estimating.”
- “No one has bothered to see if there will be personnel available with the necessary skills.”
- “People are not working toward the same specifications.”
- “People are consistently shuffled in and out of the project with little regard for schedule.”
In subsequent posts, we will address additional issues or problems often encountered in Project Planning. Comments from discussions on LinkedIn will be the source of some topics. Please post your comments, topics or experiences. The notion here is that lessons learned from problems that have their roots in planning and Project Management Plan use are potentially helpful in improving the work of the project team.
Good luck in avoiding these and other project planning pitfalls. Let us all attempt to approach the practice or managerial challenge of project management with all knowledge, tools and lessons learned that are available. Setting a solid foundation in the issues as well as the process is essential and has long term (project duration) benefits. Happy reading and good luck in your project management challenges and endeavors…
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