Project Planning

Why plan? Won't the plans just change anyway? Why waste a lot of time and effort writing down what we think we're going to do, just to have blind luck change it all before we're done? Why not "just do it" and handle whatever happens whenever it happens? These are good questions in a world changing at Internet speed. Whatever life cycle roadmap you choose, uncertainties abound, and your team may end up achieving something different than what it originally envisioned.

Referring to the mountains of planning documents prepared for the historic D-Day invasion of Europe on June 6, 1944, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower said, "Plans are nothing. But planning is everything." He recognized that extremely well-thought-out and detailed plans are also extremely fragile in the face of fate and uncertainty. But he also knew that the depth of understanding of the problem space that came from the work to prepare the plans would enable his team to react intelligently to new situations. They would be better prepared to seize new opportunities and avoid serious mistakes. Good luck is where preparation meets opportunity.

Project planning is the process that lays the framework for how the project will be run. It includes the definition of the project's objectives, selection of an appropriate life cycle, and establishment of the policies, procedures, and processes necessary to achieve the objectives. How much framework you need to write down depends, in part, on how mature your organizational environment is. If your team is a freshly hired group of people from many different backgrounds who haven't worked together, with you or your organization, more structure is required to guide them. If most of your team has been working together for a while, only a skeleton framework and simple checklist is required. The team probably already has enough cultural heritage to flesh out the plans well enough using established reporting structures, definitions, and work products.

The old jokes about planning are "Ready, fire, aim," and "You go ahead and get started coding while I go upstairs and find out what they want." Also, many projects have followed the tongue-in-cheek life cycle shown in Box 7?1. Let's hope your projects don't follow this life cycle!

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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