How Much Planning Is Enough

As is true of so many questions that arise in project management, the answer to this question is ... it depends. In this case, it depends upon many factors. Among the most important are the following.

Organizational Expectations. As mentioned above, organizations have different perspectives on the value of planning. This will reflect directly upon the time and effort teams are expected to put into planning. It's absolutely vital that you understand your organization's expectations relative to planning. If they're very low, I'd urge you to exceed them—to improve your chances of success. Just do it without a lot of fanfare.

Project Importance. This factor is associated more with organizational politics than technical or logistical criteria. If you're politically astute, you'll realize that there's likely to be much more attention paid to the so-called "hot project" than to other, more mundane projects. This is not to suggest that you should neglect planning for less glamorous projects—you just may be wise to put a little more into the planning and control of the high-visibility ones.

Project Complexity. Projects can vary considerably in complexity. Those that require a significant amount of coordination among parties, that have intricate timing, or that include a lot of participating work groups, for example, will ordinarily require more effort and forethought in planning.

Project Size. Obviously, large projects require more planning than small ones. However, the time allocated to planning and the control of large projects can often be proportionately less.

Discovering What Your Organization Expects

It's smart to understand what your organization expects of you as a project manager—for example, how much time and effort you should put into planning.As with other types of organizational expectations, talk to your peers. Sometimes, what's in your organization's documented procedures may not accurately reflect reality. Experienced project managers have discovered that behavior (i.e.,"what they do") is a more reliable indicator of expectations than documented procedures (i.e.,"what they say").

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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