Chapter 2. Planning a Project

If you’re out for a leisurely drive, you can take any road and see where it takes you. But when you’re heading to scary Aunt Edith’s house for Sunday lunch, you’d better know where you’re going. Drive as fast as you like; if you’re on the wrong road, you’re not going to get there on time. If you want to make Aunt Edith happy, you need to plan how and when you’re going to get to her house.

You’ve probably worked at a few places where people think they don’t have time to plan, as the box on Get Enough Planning Time explains. Managers breathe down your neck asking how much you’ve finished, while you’re still wondering what you’re supposed to do. You may have to do work over because no one agreed on how to do it right in the first place. Critical deadlines slip by, and the pressure to finish is even greater this time.

There’s a better way. Planning ahead helps you do the right things the right way the first time around. A project plan acts as the road map to your destination. The less time, money, or resources you have, the more you need to plan. Think, for example, about those time-share presentations where a company rambles on for a few hours about the benefits of “owning the dream.” Then, think about the 30-second commercial selling the same dream. Squeezing the message into a brief commercial actually requires far more planning than putting together a 2-hour sales pitch.

This chapter provides a quick introduction to project planning. You’ll see what goes ...

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