A problematic project plan is the first and usually biggest mistake in project management. With inadequate groundwork, projects can end way past the deadline, cost more than the allotted budget, or cultivate a desponding team. Yes, a project might be completed in the end; but with poor planning, it will not achieve its true potential. Worst, the project may not at all arrive at the finish line.

There are a number of indicators that can tell if a plan is just a problematic rough draft. Project managers can take a look and change these signs to prevent projects from falling into a crash site.

Inadequate Project Definition and Planning

Oftentimes or especially when the project employs numerous human resources, it scope, targets and stages are not properly understood by everyone. This mistake is usually due to not giving enough time and effort on precisely organizing and planning the project goals before the launch. It is also probable that the client, sponsor or stakeholder cannot convey their exact expectations to the project team. There will be dissimilar perception on what, when, how, how much, who the specific tasks are all about. Such tend to occur in larger projects where details are supposed to be mapped out formally and clearly. Thus, more serious problems such as lack of business support, poor estimates and unsatisfactory execution will snowball.

Inappropriate Estimates

It is interesting yet frustrating to see project management teams that estimate by simply guessing, reduce estimations by client mandate, or do not estimate at all. It is only during the actual development of the project that these teams realize that their time, cost, risk and system reliability approximations were wrong in the first place. They then take shortcuts to meet impossible deadlines, sacrifice quality, disappoint clients and lose potential project deals.

Lack of Risk Management

Poor planning carries with it poor anticipation and assessment of risks. If these risks remain unmonitored, they can turn into issues and problems that easily deviate or pull down the project. Surprise overtimes, for instance, if not planned for or mitigated at the start of the project, will turn a motivated team into an exhausted one. Their enthusiasm will be curtailed because they were ineffectively handled as resources. This dilemma can happen with other project aspects and assets that are exposed to risks.

Lack of Documentation

Well-planned projects always begin with statements of goals, vision and works. These documents aid team leaders and members in refocusing their endeavors if the project will unfortunately sidetrack or drift off course. Prepared documents and templates should also be ready for future documentation to countercheck the project’s progress with its original vision. Teams that skip or underappreciate this step will be lost and confused throughout the production stage.

It is not only poor planning that can bring a project down. No planning and failure to re-plan also do. However, some people dare to say that they work better when things are unplanned, while some teams are not courageous enough to re-plan. Regardless of some isolated cases of projects that still prosper with no effective planning, a well-thought plan is still the foremost step towards successful project completion.

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