Project Management without a Plan

Project Management Without a Plan

How can you manage a project without a plan?  A customer approached me about helping out with the management of a particular initiative that had slipped in dates and was required to be finished by the end of the current fiscal year.  I had some familiarity with this project and I had been told the reason why it was late was because the implementation teams did not give it priority and that there were outstanding technical issues that needed resolution that were beyond the control of the project manager.  The project manager believed this, the customer believed this, and so did the management team who had provided the project manager.  Nothing could be further from the truth and the first 5 minutes of hand-off proved that.

The plan, schedule and status was there alright, but they were all in the head of the project manager.  While he earnestly wanted the project to succeed and was definitely right about being a low priority and blocking technical issues, what was not appreciated was the leverage and impetus provide by a plan, schedule and status.

Creating a plan, engaging management to get buy in on the priority of the plan, laying out a schedule and getting commitment from resources to achieve the objectives that are on the plan creates a priority and drive to give the project the visibility and support that it needs.  There are always more projects to do than resources to do them because basic human nature wants to create and therefore people are always creating and projects are always being launched.

Project objectives, priorities and goals will only be appreciated when key stakeholders are engaged, committed and believe in results produced by the project that are meaningful to them.  If you keep things up in your head and don’t articulate and present on paper to get the commitment you need, your support will be weak and your project’s priorities will be weak and ineffective.  Create a strong plan, schedule, and get stakeholder support and buy-in and you will be able to argue for priority completion of project objectives amongst scarce resources.