Fail to Plan is planning to fail

A famous quote by Benjamin Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”, reflects importance of planning in a project’s life cycle. This quote inspired me to write this article wherein I would like to discuss the importance of planning a project.

First of all a Project plan is a document which depicts the planning of the project related activities so that the same can be monitored and tracked throughout the project execution. A well defined project plan guides the team during project and aids its successful execution.

Despite of understanding importance of having a Plan in a project, managers often hesitate to plan because of several reasons, few of them are mentioned below:

  • Complex project nature
  • New project in particular domain area
  • Research based projects
  • Unclear or frequently changing requirements
  • High external and internal dependencies
  • Project specific constraints
  • Lack of Estimation benchmarks

Most of the reasons mentioned above contribute in delays of project timelines. Often project plan is seen as mere a schedule depicting timelines. However, schedule is only a part of a complete project plan.  Other components of plan document (as seen in the image below) serves as supporting plans that play vital role in project execution. Hence a collaborative plan not only helps in minimizing delays but also ensures that the project is successfully executed while the end product meets its quality requirements.

PToF-FToP

So let’s understand above take a look at why we need a plan.

  • Clear understanding of overall project at the project startup.
  • Identification of project deliverables.
  • To keep track of the project progress and their timelines.
  • Identify the project resources.
  • Identify dependencies and constraints and plan its solutions.
  • Plan the risks and their mitigation and contingency.
  • Plan the internal and external communication mechanism suitable for the project.
  • Plan to train the team to ensure adequate skills
  • Identification of quality parameters that defines end product quality so that the same can be monitored throughout the project and to ensure that end product meets the desired quality.

Often delays in the project is misunderstood as a failed plan. However plan is always open to revision any time during the project execution as project progresses. A revised project plan guides the team in subsequent project phases.

Following are the triggers when there is a need to revise the project plan:

  • Changes in project scope and requirements
  • Changes based on interim project review feedbacks
  • Delay in project execution
  • Identification of new risks
  • Change in assumptions and constraints
  • Learning from causal analysis at the phase end or milestone.

Hence, success of a project depends on how the project plan is monitored throughout the project execution. Nevertheless is it always important to analyze the reasons behind the project delays at the end of the project.  Learning derived from such analysis might help in subsequent projects execution of similar nature and hence should be recorded as lessons learnt from that project for future reference.

Hope this article was insightful. Please share your thoughts/feedbacks in the comment section.