The Three Most Overlooked Parts of a Project Plan
There are certain aspects of a project plan that are often overlooked or simply forgotten about when planning your project. Not because they are not important but simply because they don’t seem to have a large presence in the minds of a lot of project managers. When building a project plan it is easy to overlook or undervalue these items. This post will explain what these are and why they are important to your project (and your customer!).
Whether it is your team, your customer or both it is vital to plan out how your system testing will be conducted. Who will lead the testing? What tools will be used to execute the tests? How will the results be captured and communicated back to the developers. By the time a project hits the system testing phase there’s a good chance that one or both of budget and schedule are going to be running thin and it’s imperative that your team be as efficient as possible (efficient, not cheap!) when performing your system testing in advance of releasing to your customer. Having a good plan in place where everyone knows what they are responsible for is key for getting into a smooth rhythm when conducting your system testing.
I wrote a post about this topic last week and the importance of a good system handover to the customer. I have seen a lot of project plans where this activity is undervalued and thus under-funded. Sometimes in order to cut the price enough to win the contract, this activity is one of the first casualties. With a more technically mature client you may be able to get away with this but if you have a customer who is not proficient in stewarding the system after you are gone, this becomes an incredibly important activity. Making sure that when you hand over the virtual keys to a system that your customer is ready to take the reins and own it is crucial to having a happy customer who’s willing to give you more work.
Organizational Change Management
Organizational Change Management (OCM) is often overlooked by vendors building a system for a customer. They sometimes view themselves as the “hired guns” looking to come in and deliver a system. What is often omitted from project plans in these types of scenarios is the OCM required for an organization to successfully adopt a new system. What are the business process impacts? How will people’s jobs change as a result of the new system implementation? What new opportunities will be opened up at the conclusion of the project? These questions (and many, many more) are all items that need to be addressed as part of OCM when implementing a project with business process impacts. The most technical sound and proficient system will crash and burn if the requisite OCM is not managed effectively.
Project plans are usually never 100% perfect, we need to accept that. There are items that will come out of left field that makes us pivot and adjust however as project managers these three items are ones that should never be consciously ignored when crafting your project plans.