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31 de marzo de 2013

Fail to Plan is Plan to Fail

In their day to day job, Project Managers should master the habit of visualizing about the project. Deliverables are also created twice. Before that deliverables could be tangible, the Project Manager had already imagined them. Before that team members could follow a number of processes and develop many activities, the Project Manager “had already been there”. Starting with the end in mind, in the field of Project Management, means something very specific: planning.

Before insisting about the importance of good planning for every Project (fail to plan is plan to fail), let’s think of what happen when the Project Manager doesn’t have the habit of planning. When you see someone leading a project just doing what customer asks, responding day to day issues and crisis just by reacting. Can you call this to manage a project? 

A Project Manager who lacks the habit of planning is giving a bad impression. He is not doing his job right. He is not managing a project. He is managing other thing. When a stakeholder criticizes him in a follow-up meeting because he is continually improvising, he gets blushed.

What kind of professional image is a Project Manager giving if he doesn’t know best what to be done from now on? If he prepares a gantt not for himself, but to look good in the follow-up meeting, this is very noticeable. He is not reporting project status. Why has he arranged this meeting? Just to get to know what to do next, I’m afraid.

How different the impression (and how effective we look!) when we are truly committed to the project (habit 1), and we have a clear image of the project future and near steps. The second habit of highly effective people “start with the end in mind” could be translated as the generic habit of 2) Progressive Planning and other three specific sub-habits2.1) Visualize Destiny and Path2.2) I keep an Updated Credible Plan and 2.3) I Can Say No

Following there are some lines that flows naturally when we integrate in our character habits 1 and 2

2.1) I Visualize Destiny and Path:  
  • “Affected users will need this training before week 15. Training feedback will be taken into account in change management activities.”
  • “First development iteration will solve all architectural technical issues throughout a prototype. Second iteration will release all functionality for accounts receivable, which is the most critical. Third iteration will cover the remaining functionality.”
  • “Testing separate team will be needed as of 5 FTE in July, 8 FTE in September and 10 FTE in January.”
  • “We should negotiate the licensing terms of the project product. Our company could extend this business line with this.”

2.2) I keep an Updated Credible Plan
  • “Initial assumptions are not valid anymore. Here it is the new project management plan.”.
  • “For the main work packages and control accounts, scheduling is as due. Here you are the next month planning for low level activities and milestones.”
  • “If project is early canceled next month, these could be the scope packages ready to deliver.”
  • There is no chance of delivery before March. Best chance for acceptable product is March 31, but confidence level is low (30%). We have to wait until April 15 to have 50% confidence. If we want to publish a deadline with sure no delay, that will be June 1”:

2.3) I Can Say No
  • “This request has to be rejected because this is a point out of scope, as you can read in the approved scope statement. This will be included in a next phase of the project.”
  • “Your change request is very interesting, but it will cause non-acceptance by these users and duplicate maintenance cost.”  
  • “If we are late on this activity, that other on the seller’s side will enter critical path, so any slippage on their delivery will impact our project schedule variance.”
  • “Project could be finished 2 weeks before schedule, provided that Richard stays in the team full time for one more week.”
  • “This change request has been analyzed: It would cause a secondary risk costing 2,000€ in mitigation and 2 weeks of delay. If response is not mitigation but containing, we need a reserve of 10,000€ and it will cost 3 weeks if it happened.”

Click here to read the Spanish version of this article. 
Click the label English to see the other articles written in English.