Thursday, July 7, 2011

When the Project Plan Is the Problem

The most effective project managers understand the importance of a solid project plan with reasonable estimates for each activity. So a considerable amount of time and effort usually goes into preparing the project plan. Sufficient detail is required for each task can be assigned to the person or team and understand what is expected of them and when. It details the dependencies between tasks so that risks can be evaluated in depth and is one of the cornerstones of a successful project.

But what if the plan is fundamentally flawed? Or if the requirements change substantially over a portion of the project and the plan makes no sense? In such circumstances it may be detrimental to the success of the project to follow the plan. The project manager and project team must be flexible and adaptable in their approach to the project plan. Sticking rigidly to the specified first is simply failing to grasp the reality of most projects.

And if it becomes apparent that the plan is flawed, one must admit that this and modify it to correct errors. It can be a difficult thing to admit, but blindly following a plan that we know is deficient not necessarily lead to good results.

Project managers new or inexperienced may be unprepared for the amount of flexibility in the project plans in real life and how changes are necessary for the plan during the course of the project but project managers know that experienced this is typical of most if not all complex projects.

Changes within the project can occur for a variety of reasons: the license key personnel, business priorities change, needs clearer as the project progresses, the business objective, you can simply change due to market forces. Changes may be due to internal factors within the organization or external factors on the suppliers or providers of outsourced services, but regardless of the grounds is through the experience of managing many complex projects you will learn that change is a normal part of every business and every project.

The best project managers use project plans as a starting point that will be built in more information and details of team members working on individual tasks, from the reassessment of the resources of the project as the project progresses and reviews of business requirements and the ultimate goal. It is therefore essential that you know how to monitor the status of projects and resources, and how to get meaningful information from team members and end users.

Anyone involved in a project to create a project plan can be started at the beginning of the project and simply follow through of a successful outcome is either inexperienced or only worked on simple projects.

Therefore, it is important to recognize that a failed project is not one who deviates from the project plan or program (or budget) but can not deliver what the customer needs or wants. The alteration of a plan to deliver what is required is simply a step on the road to delivering a successful project and should always be seen as such. It is essential that everyone involved in the project is aware from the outset that the plan is likely to change over time, but it is equally important that the current plan is fulfilled. It's a difficult balance to convince stakeholders of the veracity of the plan from the beginning, while preparing for that could change. No wonder so many people try to struggle with an inadequate plan instead of admitting that needs updating but nevertheless this is what you must do to succeed.