The most important responsibilities of a project manager are planning, integrating, and executing plans. Almost all projects, because of their relatively short duration and often prioritized control of resources, require formal, detailed planning. The integration of the planning activities is necessary because each functional unit may develop its own planning documentation with little regard for other functional units.
Planning, in general, can best be described as the function of selecting the enterprise objectives and establishing the policies, procedures, and programs necessary for achieving them. Planning in a project environment may be described as establishing a predetermined course of action within a forecasted environment. The project's requirements set the major milestones, and the line managers hope that they can meet them. If the line manager cannot commit because the milestones are perceived as unrealistic, the project manager may have to develop alternatives, one of which may be to move the milestones. Upper-level management must become involved in the selection of alternatives during the planning stage. Planning is, of course, decision making, since it involves choosing among alternatives. Planning is a required management function to facilitate the comprehension of complex problems involving interacting factors.
The project manager is the key to successful project planning. It is desirable that the project manager be involved from project conception through execution. Project planning must be systematic, flexible enough to handle unique activities, disciplined through reviews and controls, and capable of accepting multifunctional inputs. Successful project managers realize that project planning is an iterative process and must be performed throughout the life of the project.
One of the objectives of project planning is to completely define all work required (possibly through the development of a documented project plan) so that it will be readily identifiable to each project participant. This is a necessity in a project environment because:
• If the task is well understood prior to being performed, much of the work can be preplanned.
• If the task is not understood, then during the actual task execution more knowledge is gained that, in turn, leads to changes in resource allocations, schedules, and priorities.
• The more uncertain the task, the greater the amount of information that must be processed in order to ensure effective performance.
These considerations are important in a project environment because each project can be different from the others, requiring a variety of different resources, but having to be performed under time, cost, and performance constraints with little margin for error. Figure 11-1 identifies the type of project planning required to establish an effective monitoring and control system. The boxes in the upper portion of the curve represent the planning activities, and the lower portion identifies the ''tracking" or monitoring of the planned activities.
Without proper planning, programs and projects can start off "behind the eight ball" because of poorly defined requirements during the initial planning phase. Below is a list of the typical consequences of poor planning:
• Project initiation
• Wild enthusiasm
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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.