Planning and controls

Success comes from comprehensive plans plus keeping track (controlling) to deliver the outcomes needed

Focus planning on what is most important

Regardless of the approach taken to deliver, and whether or not the finished state can even be defined, all projects must start with a clear set of objectives and outcomes that need to be delivered.

Sometimes this is as simple as “we need this new capability by a certain date”. Other times it is more complex, such as “we need to improve our engagement online with customers”.

Project management has traditionally worked with the classic constraints – that is projects have a number of variables, and some of them end up being fixed. For example, with a project relating to the Olympic Games, time would be fixed. For a project relating to compliance, scope would be fixed. With a project for a not-for-profit business with limited resources, cost would be fixed.

There is an assumption that quality is a given, but often this is not the case.  Unfortunately in the real world ‘something has to give’ when there are problems, so project managers need to be aware of that.

The approach may change but planning is always needed

The need

Regardless of Agile or Waterfall delivery, there is always a need for planning. Planning may result in a whiteboard, sticky notes, MS Project schedule, or a series of graphs and diagrams. Planning fundamentally involves thinking and communication. In the Waterfall or traditional project world, this would be focused on developing a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), responsibilities for work packages, dependency mapping, and scheduling/resource planning.

Our expertise

Core Consulting Group (CCG) is an expert in this respect with years of planning/scheduling capability, either directly to a project/program or sometimes in a PMO support or PMO Analyst role. We recognise there is a big difference between planning and scheduling – one being the art, and one the science. While schedulers have a tool focus, planners have a people focus. Planners help people articulate plans that live in their imagination. Very experienced planners often adopt the title “Master Scheduler” by customers despite the difference we see.

The Agile approach

With Agile projects, planning is still needed but the approach is somewhat different with Program Increment Planning (PI Planning) and sprint planning focused on timebox increments and mapping of value (priority). The art of planning comes from working with product owners and development teams to optimise delivery efficiency and capability delivery.

Keeping track helps you predict the future

Regardless of approach, there is always a need for controls (keeping track). These include logging of issues and risks, changes (especially when contracts are involved), ideas, defects, and all the normal aspects of keeping track on projects.

Where a Waterfall approach is taken, there will be a strong focus on schedule tracking (updating and critical path analysis). Where an Agile approach is taken, there will be a focus on scope tracking through the backlog Kanban, particularly functions and stories with mapping to iterations and tracking of burndown of hours.

Building client capability

The work we do for clients varies, from hands-on support for a particular project, training and supporting staff, establishing standards and tools, advising strategies for improvement, or just being on hand when needed.