The Planning Process
I keep six honest serving men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
Was Kipling talking about project management? Maybe not, but his rhyme makes a good case for planning. Developing realistic cost and schedule commitments—and actually meeting them—requires detailed planning.1
The ultimate challenge in project management is doing it right the first time. But how can we be expected to produce accurate estimates when we’re producing a unique product, one that hasn’t been built before? How can we win cooperation from team members who don’t really report to us? How can we manage stakeholder expectations so they get what they want and want what they get?
Accurate, organized information is the foundation of our ability to overcome these seemingly impossible obstacles. There are certain planning techniques that organize information in ways that enable us to make good decisions. There are a few ways that a project plan helps to organize a project:
- A plan analyzes in detail how to balance costs, schedule, and quality, providing data that the project manager uses to manage stakeholder expectations.
- A plan becomes the basis for evaluating progress during the project.
- A plan includes comparisons among possible strategies for executing the project, allowing the team to choose the approach with the best chance of success.
- The resource projections contained in the plan for each project can be ...