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10 ways to get the most out of project planning

Everyone wants to make their projects successful and any little thing that can help is always welcome.

As a follow-up to my earlier blog on Gantt charting, here are 10 tips on how to get the most out of project planning:

  1. Remember that planning is more than just scheduling.
  2. When building your project’s work breakdown structure, try to involve as many team members as possible. This will help your estimates be more accurate
  3. Break the project down into phases or sprints (Got to get the Agile reference in there!)
  4. Have a high level overview for the whole project but only a detailed plan for the current and next phase or sprint. It sounds counter intuitive but this will help the project run more smoothly as it’s easier to adapt to the inevitable changes that will be needed throughout the project
  5. Try and manage your project as agilely as possible
  6. Decide what metrics you will use to monitor and report on. This should include agreeing the tolerance levels that need approval e.g. over 10% but less than 15% project steering committee, over 15% programme steering committee
  7. Plan your project communications up front. Projects have succeeded and failed on the success (or otherwise) of their communications
  8. Identify and engage with your stakeholders early. This ties into item 6 – how you engage with stakeholders can have a strong, positive or negative influence on your project’s success
  9. Make sure your project team fully understands what they are (and are not) responsible for up front. This will save angst later on when things get busy and the lines get blurred
  10. Get your procurement process set up before the project commences. There is nothing worse than agreeing to purchase some much needed equipment and the purchase is held up because you didn’t follow the necessary procurement process.

While good planning is not a guarantee of project success, failure to plan is an almost an iron glad guarantee that your project will fail. Hopefully these tips will help give your next project a better chance of succeeding. Happy planning!

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