Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg
A few years back, we did a company retreat where the whole team met up in a little town north of here and enjoyed a weekend at a great little resort.
And although there was time for rest and relaxation, we also spent a portion of the Saturday in a session with a gentleman named John from an organization called Eagle's Flight. Having done some research on our organization and the challenges we faced at the time, John led our team through a game which, although a lot of fun, led us to a point of discovery about an area that we needed to grow in, that being planning.
I remember John telling us that in terms of the percentage of project time and effort, planning should take 25-50% of the project. Since then, I've even read some authors who advocate the range to be 35-55% WOW! That's a lot of time.
But you know what...John and the other authors I've read are right.
Since that retreat, we have worked to integrate better execution of planning in all of our projects and although we are by no means perfect at it, when it's done right, the improved planning has taught us that it leaves all parties in a better place at the end of the project.
Proper planning ensures that we know what the client requires. It also ensures that the client has detailed documentation that outlines exactly what the deliverable will look and act like. It makes everyone think twice when a new feature is requested mid-project and hopefully keeps those instances of scope change to a minimum in the first place because of the foresight that planning brings to the project.
And yet, in nearly every project we do, we run up against a general sense out there that speed is the metric by which a projects success is measured. Of course, timelines need to be reasonable, and often they surround important opportunities for the organization we're working with so getting the project done in order to meet those deadlines is important. However, project timelines aren't helped by short-changing the planning process. If the right planning isn't executed, the project will either end up late or won't meet up to your expectations, or both.
So today, I wanted to take the time to combat the belief that undermines the importance of planning. Planning should be a significant portion of your project time and needs to be respected and understood for the benefits that it brings. Don't start a big project like a website one month before it's due and expect results. Good results take time and as such, that time needs to be taken into consideration.