This is a rather long title for a blog, but at the time I couldn’t think of a better way to stress how important and critical it is that the plan be communicated and shared with the technical team and key business contacts.
The plan is your sophisticated to-do list. Is the steps you intend to take to get to the final destination, to complete the final deliverables. The clearer and cleaner you make this and the more you discuss with your technical staff and key business champions, the more likely you will find missing items and holes that have to be plugged or bridges that have to be built where none existed.
Recently I took over a project where no plan existed and the tasks were accomplished by verbal discussion about what had to be done next. I had to stop and give my head a shake, because it is hard to fathom that some PM’s still operate this way. The cold reality is that probably a lot of PM’s operate this way. Describing a sequenced set of steps, including dependencies, identifying durations and resources who will be doing the work is such a fundamental prerequisite to good planning that it seems odd when this doesn’t exist when a group of people is involved in getting a common set of tasks accomplished. Sometimes the PM just doesn’t know how to start so they don’t have anything; or sometimes they are afraid that their plan will be criticized, so they don’t want to show it. However you have to create something even a rudimentary set of steps, and you have to show your plan otherwise your team will not know how to work to the same end result and more importantly you will miss their feedback.
A plan is a sequenced set of steps that involves multiple people and many interdependencies amongst the steps. Each person who has a set of steps to accomplish will be able to provide feedback on whether steps where accurate, whether their tasks predecessors or successors are correct, and how long the step is expected to take. If the PM does not share that with their team, they will miss a valuable opportunity for identifying missing items that will jeopardize the project’s success.
The cycle the PM has to get in their mind is that they gather the relevant facts, produce a current plan, share and communicate that plan with those who have ownership whether technical or business, identify missing components and incorporate that into the plan and then the cycle begins again. This cycle is repeated weekly and sometimes daily.