Sunday, 1 March 2015

There is a balance to strike between Planning and Action

I am one of the biggest proponents of the benefits of Planning in Project Management. But as in many things in life, a strength can become a weakness if you are totally blinkered by it. This post examines this conundrum as Planning without Action is futile while Action without Planning is Fatal.

Projects - Planning without action is futile, Action without planning is fatal
The sad fact of life is that the delivery date you come up with from Initiation is often likely to be later than your customer would like. Very often the organisation will only start realising benefits after delivery is complete so later delivery equals later benefits. You also need to deal with a perception that "nothing is happening" in the Initiation stage of the Project.

Plan the Plan - manage expectations for Initiation Stage 

Your first plan as a Project Manager should be a plan to produce the Project plan and Project Definition generally i.e. the Initiation Stage in PRINCE2. This can be used to manage expectations within stakeholders regarding "real" progress. Of course ensuring the Project is properly understood, defined and planned is a key foundation for Project Success but many stakeholders may not see it like this.

Is there any technical activity which can be started during Initiation?

My advice is not to be too purist with PRINCE2 and establish early whether there are some technical activities which can be undertaken while Initiation is happening. For example, this might be up-skilling some of the proposed Project team on a piece of new technology or flushing out Business Requirements in more detail. Be sure to agree these activities with your Sponsor especially if additional project spend is incurred. 

Conclusion

Planning is an important bedrock of Project Management but do not take this to excess and always look for opportunities to commence some early work at known risk and cost. Also be careful to manage stakeholder expectations during the Project Initiation phase because some will believe you are resting up!

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