It’s always tempting to dive right into a project with a rushed planning phase or worse yet, no planning phase at all; however, this is a temptation that the most effective leaders and teams resist. The planning phase of a new project is the most important part of the project and can determine both short and long-term success.
Oftentimes this step is skipped because managers are under pressure due to unrealistic expectations, because of a general impatience, or simply because stakeholders don’t appreciate how important this step is. Understanding the importance of the planning phase is one of the best ways to make sure your team gives planning the time and attention needed and avoids the risks associated with skipping this step.
Benefits of Thorough Planning
Broadly speaking, planning will increase the likelihood that your project is successful, mitigate risks, and help your team stay on budget. Here’s a more in-depth look at the benefits of planning to help convey why it’s so crucial.
A Chance to Identify and Mitigate Risks
All new projects have some associated risks. The best way to mitigate those risks is to identify them and to plan for them from the outset. Thinking through and assessing risks, large and small, can help to limit the obstacles and setbacks you face throughout a project.
While you can’t anticipate all risks, many project risks can be identified and mitigated with thoughtful planning.
Reduce the Risk of Failure
The reality is that the project failure rate for most organizations is around 70%. The most common causes of project failure are having a poorly defined project or objective; confusion from team members about their individual roles and responsibilities; and a failure to properly manage requirements throughout the project.
The planning phase of a project is a time where the entire scope of the project is laid out, including specifics about objectives, deliverables, team expectations, timelines, and costs. This information lets teams avoid the most common causes for failure and sets them up for success from the outset.
Avoid Wasting Money
Poorly planned projects lead to inefficiencies, delays, ineffective budgeting, and poor resource allocation. In contrast, a well-planned project has a budget that aligns with the scope of the project, allocates resources efficiently, avoids the delays that come from inadequate resources, and avoids the wasted time and money that comes from miscommunication or duplicative efforts. In fact, teams that engage in effective planning are 28 times less likely to have wasted project management funds than teams that don’t.
More Effective Progress Tracking and Monitoring
One key result of good planning is clearly defined goals and objectives. Having these guidelines from the start makes it easy for managers to track progress, identify any areas of concern, and timely make adjustments.
Doing this ensures that your team stays focused on project objectives and that any necessary changes are quickly made.
Increased Collaboration and Communication
The best teams are those that communicate effectively and collaborate regularly. Good planning helps to facilitate this by identifying all parties that need to be involved in the project and identifying the roles of each team and individual. Further, clear expectations about roles, deadlines, and communication expectations can help teams to collaborate and be on the same page throughout all aspects of the project.
There’s an often-repeated Abraham Lincoln quote that says, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” At MSLLC, we take a similar approach when it comes to project planning and appreciate the critical role that the planning phase of a project plays.
Because we’re focused on providing sustained delivery to clients, consistently providing the best result possible, and helping our team members thrive, we prioritize thorough and thoughtful planning for all projects. We encourage you and your teams to do the same!