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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsLet's start planning a project. Before we dig in, let's think about what a plan is and why we need a project plan. Peter Drucker, one of the most famous management gurus, tells us what an action plan should look like. An action plan is a statement of intentions. But it is not a commitment. It is not a straitjacket. It is not intended to restrict our movement or to restrict the operation of our business. A plan is meant to be revised often and continuously. It should anticipate the need to be flexible, and it needs to have a system to allow us to measure how we're progressing against the plan. In addition, a plan has to become the basis for executive time management.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 secondsIt informs the way we plan, the evolution of our executives, and the time that they spend, in the way they spend operating our business. A project plan is very specific, and it's going to include the following components. A project plan is going to include identifying the scope, what is the scope of our project. It is going to include a phase of identifying all the tasks, the dependencies among them, and the schedule. In order to ultimately come up with an actual duration and time frame for the completion of our project. As part of our plan, we're also going to be thinking of our resources and how many we need and when do we need them.

Skip to 1 minute and 34 secondsWe're going to be clarifying the trade offs that we're going to be making in terms of cost, resources versus time. And finally, we're going to develop a robust and a useful risk management plan that will allow us to cope with changes in our future throughout the life of the project. One of the critical reasons why we plan projects is to help us bridge the gap between the initiation phase and the execution. The plan allows us to reflect on the objectives that we set and to realize whether they're even feasible. It also allows us to come up with ideas around how we plan to execute our project and what kind of mechanisms need to be in place.

Skip to 2 minutes and 14 secondsThe project management office, office, how it's going to look like, where it's physically going to be located, what type of meetings will occur, how often, and the plan gives us some indication as to what is needed and when. What are the pressure points of the project, milestones that have to be hit, and how we can plan accordingly.

Skip to 2 minutes and 35 secondsSome of us like to plan for a long time.

Skip to 2 minutes and 40 secondsIndividuals who are planning their weddings typically take many, many months to plan that exciting event. Others prefer to plan for a shorter duration, over a shorter duration, and really rush into the execution. In general, there is no prescribed rule to tell you how long you should spend planning. But one of the most important factors, is to realize that, while you do plan, even if you've moved to the execution phase, and even if you want to progress the project, you might have to go back and amend your plan. The plan is only there to start the process off. It is a work in progress and it is a continuous improvement on our expectations. And so, let's start planning.

Why Plan?

Professor Yael Grushka-Cockayne explains the importance of having a plan. A plan includes the following components:

Identify the scope
Identify tasks, dependencies, and schedule
Plan resources
Clarify trade-offs and decision making principles
Develop a risk management plan

In your experiences with planning projects, did you work through each of these components listed above?

Professor Yael Grushka-Cockayne also emphasizes the importance of revising a plan continuously and anticipating the need to be flexible. You might even have to go back and amend your plan.

Have you had some experiences in having to amend your plan/s?
What were some of the challenges in doing so?
What were some of the benefits?
What might you do differently in the future?

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This video is from the free online course:

Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management

Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

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