Setting Projects Up for Success: The Power of Proper Planning

We tend to believe that projects fail at the end, but in reality, many projects have failed long before the failure becomes apparent, and many are doomed to fail even before they begin.

How can that be, I hear you say.

Well, it’s usually because the projects were underestimated, their complexity was not fully understood, the requirements were not 100% clear, or simply they have just been planned poorly.

Commitments are made too early and it’s these commitments which fail to be met.

If we agree to dates; to budgets; before we fully understand what’s involved, then it’s hardly surprising that we fail.

We need to ensure that we fully understand, or at least understand enough to be able to make reasonable estimates, and then we need to do the necessary planning, ensuring that our estimate is complete and that we haven’t missed anything out.

Our estimates need to be in line with industry standards, too often I see projects where the Analysis and Design Phases are 40%, the Build phase is 50% and the Testing and Implementation Phases are just 10% of the total project cost and timeline.

This just isn’t realistic or in line with any industry standard, the latter stages have just been planned with an end date in mind, made to fit the timeline, rather than properly estimated and planned.

Or even worse, complete phases of the project have been forgotten.

Once we have a realistic estimate of what is needed – in terms of effort, then we need to ensure that the required resources are available when we need them.

This is another key cause of failure before we start. Even when we have a good plan, it often assumes that the resources will just be available when needed. But this is rarely the case, it’s not many organisations that can afford to have resources sitting idle waiting for work to come.

We need to plan the required timeline around the availability of the required resources.

Once we have a good plan, that is complete and based on a good understanding of the requirements and the proposed solution, and have taken into account the required resource availability, then we have put ourselves into a position to be successful.

When we do this we have ensured that the project is not doomed before we have even started and that we have at least given us a chance to be successful.

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