Even though I have been a certified project manager for quite some time and doing project management for many years, I still do a lot of reading on project management. Why you ask?
Simple. I like to keep current on all that is going on in the profession, gather other points of view, and add new tools and techniques to my library. But most of all, I read quite a few white papers that provide statistical analysis on project delivery.
I must say, I am bewildered at what the statistical analysis continues to report on how challenging it appears to be for a project to be delivered successfully. When I read that one of the top 3 reasons for project failure is poor project planning, I just scratch my head in wonder. Why would we miss such a crucial step in the project lifecycle?
Is this an oversight or a simple mistake? Or is there something more insidious occurring? Are the reasons for project failures self inflicted?
Without project planning, you are skipping a step in the process. Going from concept to execution. But what are you executing? As the PM, you may have an ‘idea’ of what the project is supposed to deliver but how does that translate to the project team.
Perhaps the project sponsor or executive team is pressuring to get the project ‘kicked off’ because of time limitations. Or that the planning process takes several weeks to get completed and is an arduous task to get through all the reviews, etc. There are many reasons why project planning is either done half heartedly or passed over.
I would hazard a guess that lessons learned would document how there was NO planning done, which lead to poor requirements and poor scope definition, which by the way are the other 2 reasons for project failures. And another self inflicted project failure goes down in the record books. STOP the insanity!!
You would not live in a house with an unstable foundation. Why manage a project that does not have a solid plan in which to build on? Projects are becoming more complex, and business is relying on the outcome to produce a benefit for the company.
Increase the chances of successfully delivering the project. Work with the project team to define what ‘done’ looks like, how much it will cost, how long it will take, what events may or may not occur that would have a negative impact on the project, and set the expectation with stakeholders. Doing it as a team, shortens the planning cycle and will give each member the opportunity to provide input and review.
A good project plan builds a solid foundation. It does not guarantee smooth execution but it does give you the necessary guidance on how to deal with any issues that threaten successful delivery. Self inflicted project success sounds so much better and those pesky statistics will begin to reflect that success, through the use of sound project management practices.
Wouldn’t you rather have one in the win column? Don’t forget to plan!!
© 2011 Gwen Miller. All Rights Reserved