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Watch for Signs of Poor Project Planning
According to project management experts, you can spot major trouble on the horizon if you keep your eyes peeled for any of these five symptoms.
1. Lack of Shared Documentation
Well-planned projects always start with a vision document and a statement of work. Both of these documents can help team leaders refocus their efforts whenever it feels like a project has started to drift off course. Regular review cycles allow all team members to check their progress against the original vision. Teams that are suffering either skipped over the creation of these important documents or simply shelved them in favor of dealing with urgent issues.
2. Lack of Attention to Detail
In addition to meeting deadlines and passing milestones, project teams with strong plans tend to be highly accurate. If typos creep into project documents or if errors emerge in project deliverables, team leaders could be held accountable for cutting corners. One symptom your project is poorly planned is if you frequently abandon review and assessment tasks in favor of “crunch time" production.
3. Unclear Status
Although every project team tends to track its status in different ways, successful teams always understand how to learn the current status of their project. Without a status update system and with a lack of review and assessment periods, team members can easily lose track of their own pieces of the puzzle. You don't want to end up with an environment where team members have no clear idea how their colleagues are progressing. The problem gets even worse in complex projects, especially when team members rely on each others’ completed tasks for information or for raw material.
4. Poorly Defined Cycles or Milestones
Expert project planners follow the advice of Stephen Covey when they “begin with the end in mind." Backtiming project milestones using generous estimates of the time needed to complete tasks is one of the most reliable way of measuring project success. Without accurately described milestones and clear deadlines participants lack the ability to gauge their own progress.
5. Surprise Overtime
Whether or not milestones and deadlines have been poorly defined, a sudden necessity for extra human resources is one of the most visible hallmarks of poor project planning. “Crunching" to meet deadlines might feel like an adrenaline-laced team building exercise. However, relying on sudden bursts of energy suggests a heavy emphasis on external motivation instead of a commitment to assign resources effectively.
Do you see any of these symptoms in your project? These are serious issues wich can spell failure to meet your goals. You may want to consider backtracking to make sure your plan is clearly defined and all your team members understand the process.