5-Star Planning for Project Success

Posted by Steve Beyer on Jan 8, 2016 12:02:06 PM

Project Planning Advice from Dwight D. Eisenhower

One of my wisest and most-respected managers often cited General Eisenhower’s credo, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” While you may have heard this before, consider the rest of the thought from the genius responsible for D-Day’s planning: “There is a very great distinction…because what you are planning for is unexpected; therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.”  Let’s apply the General’s wisdom to general project planning.

Project delivery excellence is commonly understood to a function of how well you understand and manage scope, schedule, and budget -- often referred to as the three legs of a stool, or a triangle.

Often overlooked, and therefore often misunderstood and under-managed, is a fourth element: "risk."  When added into the project planning and consideration equation, regardless of what geometric shape it gets called, it helps to complete the proper formula for assessing and developing options for going forward with your projects.

While all four of these elements matter, at various times or under various circumstances, each element may take priority or precedence over the others. Understanding their relative value in determining the successful outcome of the final solution is critical.

Subsequent posts here will address each of these four elements in turn.

In the meantime, understand that each is related to and dependent upon the others, and that together they form an organic and generally evolving set of variables that will determine your project’s success.  Plan to repeatedly reassess the probability of your success and the degree of difficulty of your process.

Project management "best practices" dictate that understanding the relative weight of each of these elements, and proper planning for and mitigating the risk to each, begins with a clear definition of requirements and constraints. You can do this yourself, or these can be developed with the support and expertise of an integrator such as Optimation, and will help anticipate, and avoid, many foreseeable problems.

Be as open, transparent, and comprehensive as you determine you can be in working with the integrator to capture these dimensions. Document them. Make sure all stakeholders voices are represented. Use your integrator to interview those stakeholders, and collect unbiased and 360° views of the objectives and restrictions.

Understand your current state, and allow your integrator to help you build a complete vision of your future desired state. Quantify wherever possible all of the dimensions of these decisions. Take into account technology obsolescence. Remember the impact on and potential of human assets. And leverage the expertise of your integrator drawing from the experience of what they do every day, year after year.

If you do this well and take the advice and counsel of an experienced integrator, you will find the road better marked, better lit, and well-thought out in order to make your journey to success more probable and more productive. Contact Optimation for immediate help, and check back to this blog site for more information on these four elements of successful project management and execution.

Photo Credit: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Topics: Project Management

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