Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Discussion – Have we forgotten some of the basics?

Planning is a priority; there is never an option of not planning even when resources are scarce.

Planning should exist throughout the project and perhaps extend into operations (and possibly disposal). This way planning can help ensure that benefits are realised. As such, it might suggest that the sponsor – who is responsible for the benefits of the project – should have a greater interest in the planning aspects of the project or programme.

As projects adopt more ‘agile’ and iterative approaches, greater focus is put on ‘top down’ planning and risk prioritisation. If planning is often confused with ‘schedule’ then risk management is often confused with risks management – the management and focus on individual risks. Marginalising these techniques in this way, making them an operational rather than strategic issue is a problem.

Although these areas are referred to as basics it may be more appropriate to view them as ‘fundamentals’. The awareness of these fundamentals outside the profession is poor - senior executives are not interested in these ‘details’.

Professionally, both planning and risk management roles are considered a stepping stone to something more ‘bigger’. This is one of the why these fundamentals are ignored because they are perceived to have little strategic meaning and therefore are professionally unrewarding.

However, 100% of delegates believe constructed plans are often ignored by management who want a different answer.

It is not that senior executives are disinterested in these subjects, they have other pressures and priorities. If ignored the impact of failed projects can be cataclysmic. What is essential is that senior executives and even project professionals understand the value of planning and risk management and not discount these issues as an inconvenience.

84% believe your project risk management looked at ‘top down’.
100% believe that project risk management should be ‘top down’.
79% believe that project plans are not done by planning experts in their organisation
93% believe that risk is a process not a mindset in their organisation.

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