The project plan is the core tool at the heart of project management and is the key to controlling the progress of the project. There is an often-repeated saying that maintains ‘if you fail to plan you plan to fail’. A similar quote, attributed to the managing director of a pharmaceutical company, bemoans the fact that:
We never seem to have time to plan our projects, but we always have time to do them twice.
Only one thing about your project plan is certain—it will be out of date as soon as the ink is dry. Planning is an iterative process that goes on throughout the life of your project. The plan is a living thing that isn’t finished until the project is complete.
Developing the initial plan is usually a very optimistic stage in the project. You have a clean sheet of paper and a host of opportunities and possibilities. OK so you already know it will be wrong but once you have a plan you can measure progress against it and re-plan as necessary. Nothing is more stressful than an ad hoc approach to planning.
The plan helps you understand where you are and puts you in control. Remember:
- Plans need to be shared
- Plans need to be agreed
- Plans need to be updated