Why You Should Plan Ahead – The Influence Curve

The basic reason why you should plan ahead is because a good planning is fundamental for the success of a project. It is much easier to influence the success of the project during the initial phases. On the other hand, the costs of change increase the further you carry the project. If you don’t plan properly and have to keep making change after change, rest assured that you will incur much higher costs than initially estimated. Have a look at this simple graph which illustrates the relationship between ability to influence the outcomes, the cost of change and the time horizon of a project.

The Influence Curve

Resist the Temptation of Skipping the Planning Phase!

There is always that friend (or co-worker) who will say “naah, but why plan so much? We should start doing right away, since we already know what we want to achieve!” What should you do? Ignore the peer pressure and move forward with the planning processes. Here are some excuses from the people who want to skip the planning:

  • “Setting deadlines can be very negative! What if we don’t meet them? It will damage our reputation!”
  • “I’m not a planner, I’m a doer! I like to jump right in and start doing.”
  • “Why should we spend time planning if the customers will be changing their minds every 5 minutes?”
  • “It takes too much time and too much effort to plan. It’s not worth it!”
  • “How about we figure out as we go? We don’t need to waste our time with planning.”

While you’re hearing these excuses, your mind might be like “oh please, why don’t you just shut up? Didn’t I tell you thousands of times the importance of planning?” But we are in a formal, business environment, so you must (should) be polite. Let your mind drift away, but stick to the formal “let’s go through the importance of planning again?” Explain to your colleagues and team members why you want to document the most important steps of the project, and what will be the benefits of it. Patience is the key here.

The Details

Amazingly, the planning process group is the one with the highest number of processes. Here is a list, based on the PMBOK book, of all steps involved in the planning phase. Click on them to access the specific article and read more about how to successfully run each process.

How to Successfully Develop a Project Charter – A Complete Guide

Developing a project charter involves several different areas. In this guide we will cover, among others, several major processes in planning a project:

  • Define the project purpose and the project scope
  • Define the project deliverables, costs and estimates
  • Plan for project constraints and risks
  • Define the project stakeholders
The Ultimate Guide to Building a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

The Work Breakdown Structure is what will determine the organization of all your tasks and activities. It is a very important document and it details all the work necessary to achieve the planned outcome of the project. In this guide we will cover the following processes in the PMBOK book:

A realistic schedule is required to understand how each task fits into the established deadlines of the project. A well-constructed schedule also makes the tasks of estimating costs and assessing the flexibility of the project much more straightforward. In this guide we will cover the following processes in the PMBOK book:

  • Plan Schedule Management
  • Define the Activities Involved in the Project
  • Sequence the Activities
  • Estimate the Resources Needed to Complete each Activity
  • Estimate the Duration of each Activity
  • Develop the Schedule of the Project
The Ultimate Guide to Running Accurate Cost Estimations

Costs are one of the main concerns when running estimations for a project. Together with the schedule, the cost estimations are one of the most important documents you should present. In this guide we will cover the following processes in the PMBOK book:

  • Plan Cost Management
  • Estimate the Costs of the Project
  • Determine the Budget for the Project
The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Risk Management Strategy

Risk management is very important in order to determine whether a project is viable and can be implemented with a positive net expected value. Not only that, but an early assessment of the project risks allow you to identify the most sensitive areas where you have to pay attention. In this guide we will cover the following processes in the PMBOK book:

  • Plan Risk Management
  • Identify the Risks Involved in the Project
  • Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis
  • Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis
  • Plan Risk Responses