“No plan survives the first contact with the enemy” - Sun Tzu in The Art of War
Planning is one of the main secrets to successful project implementation. In the first place, during the planning stage, a good plan creates a model of the project which enables the Project Manager to analyse how the work needs to be carried out and identify the options for doing so. In the second place, during the implementation stage it provides a "baseline" for control purposes. This baseline can help the Project Manager to judge whether the project is on course or not and thus control it.
To do this in practice, you need to focus on the project and
- draw up a
complete list of the activities and tasks to be carried out showing the people
or sections who would need to do them. For change projects, use the note on
Implementation Planning in Additional Materials to tune the plan to try to minimise
- chart these activities using either a Gantt chart,
a milestone plan, or a Critical Path analysis network.
- with this chart, talk to the people who would need to be involved about their
contribution and to get their ideas, their estimates of time involved, and their
- continue this until you have a fairly complete map of the project.
During this process you will start to identify possible difficulties and blockages and you should become clear as to which activities are the critical ones – those, which could delay the whole project.
Planning Sheets, Milestone Plans and Gantt Charts
You will almost certainly need to use one of the following planning techniques to plan your project.
- Planning Sheets simply list the activities to be carried out with key
- Critical Path Analysis links the activities together to form a network.
To use this technique you will most likely need to have received training in it.
- Stages Plan lays out the progress in a series of stages
- Milestone Plans focus mainly on the end-dates by which something needs to be complete or by which certain objectives need to be achieved.
- Bar or Gantt Charts focus more on the activities to be carried out to complete the project.
Each technique has its strengths and weaknesses and you need to select the technique most suited to your particular project. Each is illustrated below.