Project Management Deadly Sin: Poor Planning

After discussing project management in class the other day, I got interested in the topic and decided to do some reading on it. I came across a sentence in an article, which prompted me to write this post. The sentence was, “in a perfect world every project would be on time and within budget, but reality (especially the proven statistics) tells a very different story.”

In other words, projects more than often end up in the failure range, that is; failure to meet expectations, failure to meet the deadline, failure to remain within the budget…etc. So the question remains, why do so many projects fail? Among the articles that I read, one caught my attention because it portrayed what I had already established in my mind.  The article stated; to keep your projects from ending up in the failure range, you must avoid making the single biggest project management mistake: inadequate project definition and planning. While project management encompasses three main activities (Planning, Scheduling and Controlling), after reading the article, I firmly believe planning is the key success factor in any project.

This is because, planning defines what the project will deliver, when it will be complete, what it will cost, who will do the work, how the work will be done, and what the benefits will be. Without clearly establishing these aspects of the project, the subsequent phases in project management are next to useless. Moreover, poor up-front planning leads to inevitable poor estimates. In many cases, if the definition and planning is not done ahead of time, the project team starts off with inadequate resources and time. Thus, many projects that could be successful are viewed as failures because they overshot their budgets and deadlines. This critical error is usually not realized until the project is already in progress.

In conclusion, how do we avoid making that error? The article offers the simple solution of spending the time up-front on good definition and planning, which will eventually end up taking much less time and effort than having to correct the problems while the project is underway.

So my question to you: if you don’t think poor planning is the deadly sin, then what is?

And how do we avoid making the common errors of failing to meet budgets and timelines among other things?

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