Too often projects are initiated in a very casual manner without enough forethought to long-term planning. This is always problematic, as it causes confusion among the project members who are performing the work, since they do not have a defined set of requirements or documented roles/responsibilities. Additionally, the lack of formal project plan documentation assures the project team will be out of sync with the project sponsor, and the end product will therefore not meet delivery requirements.
The up-front work to plan appropriately is often seen as a time-consuming nuisance by inexperienced project managers, and is often ignored at project start. This leads to confusion and disorder across the project team and results in substantial time spent on damage control while also trying to develop a project plan with the project already in motion. In this scenario, the project manager will struggle to identify the sponsor’s business and functional requirements and communicate them accurately to those responsible for the work activity.
Developing a thorough plan at the onset of a project provides a guide for all aspects of project execution. The project plan formally documents the approved requirements, the scope, the budget, the schedule, and is a means to communicate expectations and progress across all of the team members involved. It also includes definition of quality control, risk identification/mitigation planning and obligations for end-product delivery/integration. Purposeful and detailed planning at the start of any project reduces disruptions, minimizes cost overruns and keeps you on schedule while laying the groundwork for successful implementation.