Project Management

The Importance of Planning in Project Management

Project management is a complex process that requires careful planning, execution, and monitoring. However, despite the existence of standardized methodologies, such as the PMBoK and BABoK, planning is often overlooked or poorly executed in projects. This can lead to missed deadlines, demotivated teams, and increased uncertainty.

In order to create an environment conducive to success, where difficult conversations can take place when necessary, planning must be a priority.

What is planning?

Planning is the process of breaking down a project’s goals and deliverables into smaller, more manageable tasks. It involves understanding the project’s scope, timeline, and resources, and creating a roadmap for how the project will be executed. Planning is not a one-time activity; it is an ongoing process that requires constant evaluation and adjustment.

What does planning entail?

As a first step, if the team takes the time to sit together to collectively think about the “how” of getting the work done, they will clearly understand:

  1. If what they are committing to deliver is doable (i.e., is there capacity)
  2. Any dependencies that may exist
  3. Any risks/issues that they may have identified.

A thorough plan typically includes several key elements that are necessary for achieving a specific goal or objective, however no good plan is complete without the following basics:

  • Understand the bigger picture of what needs to be delivered and by when
  • Break down the deliverables into bite sized chunks
  • Sit down and agreeing on the delivery timelines
  • Understand how much capacity you have to actually do the work
  • Chat to the people you need to help you deliver the work
  • Have the priority conversation to ensure that you will be working on the right items at the right time

What are the benefits of planning?

Realistic goals

Planning helps to ensure that project goals are realistic and achievable. By breaking down deliverables into smaller tasks, teams can accurately estimate how long each task will take and determine if they have the capacity to complete them.

Increased visibility

Planning outputs provide visibility into the project’s progress for both the client and project team. This allows stakeholders to understand how the project is progressing and whether it is on track to meet its objectives.

Alignment with strategy

Planning aligns project goals and deliverables with the organization’s overall strategy. This ensures that the project is contributing to the organization’s objectives and mission.

Collaboration and communication

Planning stimulates conversation and collaboration among team members. By working together to develop/update a project plan, teams can share ideas and identify potential risks and issues before they occur.

Understanding of deliverables

Planning creates a shared understanding of what is being delivered and how it will be achieved. This ensures that everyone is working towards the same goal and reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings or miscommunications.

Why is planning often overlooked?

Despite the obvious benefits of planning, it is often overlooked or poorly executed in projects. There are several reasons why this may occur:

Time constraints: In today’s fast-paced business environment, there is often pressure to start projects quickly and deliver results as soon as possible. This can lead to a rush to start working on tasks without adequate planning.

Lack of resources: Projects are often initiated with limited resources, which can make it difficult to allocate time and personnel to planning activities.

Resistance to change: Some team members may be resistant to the planning process, seeing it as unnecessary or bureaucratic.

Creating a culture of success

To create a culture of success and collaboration, project managers must prioritize planning and ensure that it is an ongoing process. This requires a commitment to developing a project plan and/or healthy backlog that is realistic, achievable, and aligned with the organization’s overall strategy. By involving the entire team in the planning process and creating a shared understanding of project goals and deliverables, project managers can foster collaboration, communication, and teamwork.

Tracy Hean
Head of Delivery, Mint ERP: Tracy is a motivated self-starter who has successfully managed and delivered various innovative business and technical solutions aligned with long-term vision and strategy. She has gained comprehensive experience in end-to-end management of various technical projects, initiatives and applications in line with budgets, timeframes and specifications, covering operational improvement, software development, technology implementation, vendor management, risk management and compliance. Tracy leverages strong people management and development skills to provide motivational leadership, mentorship and agile coaching to multifunctional IT teams across projects and applications.

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