Build a Plan in Six Easy Steps

Build a Plan in Six Easy Steps

Ever wondered what should be in / what makes a good plan?

Wonder no more! It’s these six things:

  1. What are we trying to do and how will we know when it’s done?
  2. What stuff has to be done to achieve #1?
  3. Who’s going to do that stuff?
  4. Who’s going to make it all happen?
  5. What if something goes wrong?
  6. Can we stop things from going wrong?

 

1.    What are we trying to do and how will we know when it’s done?

The best way to figure this out is write down the answers to these two questions:

  • What’s the last job in the project – what is the thing which, when it is carried out, the project is over?
  • Who are the stakeholders in the project and what would each of them regard as the best possible outcome to the project?

 

2.    What stuff has to be done to achieve #1?

Figuring this out is described in our two papers, How To Run Successful Projects and How To Estimate Anything Accurately. If you need them, you’ll find them here http://fastprojects.org/how-to-estimate-your-project-accurately/.

One way to represent the output from this is on a Gantt Chart https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gantt_chart showing:

  1. Work Breakdown Structure (i.e. the project broken down into big chunks broken down into smaller chunks and so on down to little jobs)
  2. Estimated Work for each little job in person-days
  3. Estimated Duration of each little job mapped onto the calendar of the Gantt Chart
  4. Dependencies between little jobs
  5. The Budget for each job – calculated based on the Work.

A key part of all of this will be a list of Assumptions upon which the estimating is based.

 

3.    Who’s going to do that stuff?

Two extra columns added to your Gantt Chart:

  1. Who’s going to do this little job?
  2. What is / are that person’s / people’s availability?

 

4.    Who’s going to make it all happen?

Who’s the Project Manager? Add a job to your list of jobs called ‘Project Management’. If you have a rule of thumb for estimating the amount of project management a project needs, use it. Otherwise use 10% of the Total Work in the project. The Duration of the project management job is the duration of the project.

 

5.    What if something goes wrong?

Ever been on a project where it didn’t? Hence the need for Contingency.

 

Easiest way to do it is to add on another 10-15% to the duration of the project to cover unexpected things. Notice that this has the effect of holding onto the team for an extra period of time. This means that you essentially have a (calculable) ‘bucket’ of extra person-days that can be used to deal with unexpected events.

 

6.    Can we stop things from going wrong?

This is risk management:

  • Brainstorm and make a list of risks (i.e. things that could go wrong on the project)
  • Grade each risk according to its Likelihood on a scale of 1-3, where 1 is Low and 3 is High
  • Grade each risk according to its Impact on the same 1-3 scale
  • Hence calculate the Exposure – how open you are to the risk. (You get it by multiplying the Likelihood by the Impact.)
  • For risks with Exposures 6 or 9, identify Actions you can take to reduce or eliminate these risks. These Actions are jobs that need to end up back in the Work Breakdown Structure and get carried out.

There it is. There’s a plan.

 

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