Building a sound and technically correct schedule is not sufficient to ensure that what is in the schedule is optimal, true and correct. Excellent and usable schedules require the work of the entire project team. Ideally this team is fully engaged in the process of defining the problem to be solved by the project, agrees on the approach and work, negotiates the specifics of their contributions and identifies where risks exist and how to mitigate or eliminate them.
The art and science of well executed planning can produce a strong and committed team, a well informed and engaged customer, and a rock solid schedule that serves as a tool of great insight for everyone in the project.
Project Planning Challenges
When the processes and practices are inadequate for creating plans and schedules that are useful as tools to manage projects, we often see these types of issues:
- Widely different approaches to building schedules are evident across projects. Schedule design and quality often differs significantly.
- Team members are not involved in the efforts to prepare the scope of the project. They’ll say that they are handed assignments with effort and date requirements without being consulted.
- Schedulers are handed a set of dates and told to build a schedule that fits the dates, regardless of the input by team members.
- The project manager and the scheduler often do not work closely together.
- Interconnectedness between work breakdown and the schedule is not well understood by the team members, or even the project manager.
- Once underway, the project has many “surprises” that often are seen as items that should have been identified up front.
- Customers are disengaged from the project in a way that prevents them from understanding how their internal processes and decisions impact the project budget, schedule, resources and risks.
Good planning practices that produces excellent schedules is often an iterative process that requires the following:
- Defining (and iteratively refining) the problem to be solved by the team.
- Agreeing on approach to be taken and the work to be done.
- Identifying the interconnectedness of the work and efforts of the team.
- Identifying and quantifying the risks in the work approach.
- Briefing the team, the customer, and the stakeholders on the plan.
Establishing a formal and repeatable process of planning is one of the most impactful ways that a project manager can create a strong team that understands the scope and implementation of the work to be done. The schedule, which is the artifact from this undertaking, represents the “contract” between the project manager, the team and the stakeholders. The benefits include:
- Deeper levels of trust in the project information due to consistency in project planning process.
- Better predictability of project milestones and completion dates.
- More accurate prediction of resource requirements and usage.
- Teams that are more willing to buy in and commit to dates and deliverables because they feel engaged, validated, and empowered.
- Improved project success and customer satisfaction.
Call us today (703) 910-2600 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how Ten Six can help improve your planning processes and data quality to support better decision making.