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Monday, May 6, 2013

Six Ways to Shorten the Planning Phase!

This post explores the effect of losing a PM (Temporarily) and considers mitigation strategies . . .

Last week I went down with something like the Flu.  I was in bed with a fever, switching from chills to sweats and back for the full weekend and two business days.  I returned to the office on Wednesday, but was at no more than 50%.  I think that today, Monday, is my first full capacity day in over a week.

As you may imagine, my projects suffered a bit.  One project is in Design, that took the smaller hit.  The other project is in early planning stage, and this project basically lost a week due to my illness.

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In "The Lazy Project Manager," Peter Taylor explains that projects are "fat" at the start and end when considering the Project Manager's workload.

This means that it is most important to have contingency or mitigation plans in place for the initial planning phase of the project (when the PM is most heavily engaged).

The question becomes - how to limit the effect of a PM's temporary illness - during the critical initial planning phase of a project.

My Prescription is simple:  Do Everything Possible to Shorten the Planning Phase

Six Ways to Shorten the Planning Phase

  1. Use a workshop approach to Planning: 
    • Get everyone in a room for a morning to hammer out the plan.
    • Get Approval (Conditional Approval if needed) before the workshop ends.
  2. Assign Extra Project Managers for the Planning Phase:
    • Add additional PMs to exercise (or develop) specific skills
    • Assign a PM to each Planning Deliverable (Charter, Schedule, Budget, Etc.)
    • Note the added benefit, multiple PMs now understand the objective and scope of your project.
  3. Strip Planning Deliverables to the bare minimum
  4. Eliminate any "Stop and Wait" gates and replace with post audits
  5. Track "Days in Planning" as a project metric and celebrate successes (e.g., One Day in Planning List)
  6. Calculate ROI for this approach and publish - the will quickly become the organizational standard.
Shaving weeks (yes weeks!) off of the initial project planning phase helps to both deliver valid projects and kill unjustified projects faster.  Get out of the planning phase - Just Do It!

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