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26 2013

If You Fail to Plan You Plan to Fail

Syndicated from: Your Planning Partners

This is the third in a series of four blogs focused on the importance of successful projects in building a strong, sustainable business. If there are no projects it means no new things are happening, which means the business is standing still. If the business is standing still it is actually going backwards. If there are projects happening but they constantly fail to deliver the desired results or come in late or cost more than anticipated then they are sucking energy and resources from the core business. This is also a bad thing! This blog explains how the road to successful projects is laying down a good plan by following the 5 Step Planning Process. Here is one very important thing. Everyone who will be involved in the project must have an active role in planning the project. If they are not actively involved they will not commit. If they don’t commit you are embarking on a project that is destined to failure – guaranteed! Before you start the 5 Step Planning Process get absolute clarity around what the end of the project will bring. Paint a very clear picture. For example, if the project is to create and launch a new product the picture might look like this: On completion of the “New Product Project” the product is launched, which means: Product is ready for purchase Announcement went to 1,000 people It is on the website Everyone has been trained on product delivery Marketing material is done The processes are done Etc. Then describe the current situation so everyone knows the gap between the current situation and the desired end goal of the project. Now start planning using our 5 Step Process! Step 1 – List all the tasks required to get you from the current situation to project completion. Give each task a unique number and a name; this helps to avoid confusion during the planning and management of the project. Step 2 – Identify the dependencies between tasks. That is, before you can start Task 7 you realize Task 3 must be completed. In our New Product example the marketing material content and design must be complete before you can print it. Step 3 – Assign the task to someone. Will the task need more than one person? If so who will have overall responsibility. Make sure you are matching skills and experience to the task and not just assigning Frannie because she is not very busy at the moment (sorry Frannie). Step 4 – Estimate the time to complete each task. Add 10% to 25% to your estimate to allow for surprises. Why such a wide range? If you understand the task really well and it is a short task add 10%. If the task is not very clear and it has lots of complexities add 25%. Step 5 – Put the tasks into a timeline. Remember the dependencies and allow for lapse time. Lapse time plays an enormous role if an assigned person can only work on the task part-time. If the end of the timeline is unacceptable don’t just arbitrarily change all the estimates. That won’t work. You must either accept the result or remove some tasks from the plan to bring the timeline into sync with your requirements. Don’t cut corners on the planning phase of a project because as the blog title says: if you fail to plan you plan to fail! Now the plans are in place you are ready for the exciting part; implementing the project! The next blog will provide guidelines on how to successfully manage projects. Visit our website at

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