Friday, August 9, 2013

How Much Planning Is Too Much?

Planning is shareware, not shelf-ware.

Nowadays, agility eats strategy for lunch, should you still make a plan, how much planning is too much? What level of detail is necessary to be effective?

  1. Planning is key and necessary. The extent or exhaustiveness of a plan will vary dependent upon a spectrum of factors which include dimensions such as size, that is $ spend, resources to be marshaled, complexity in terms of project reach, use of new technology, capability and maturity of both the user community impacted and of the project team. The bottom line is that there is no prescriptive or easy answer. You just have to apply common sense and intelligence. 
  1. Effective leadership and a clearly articulated intent are essential in planning otherwise you either end up getting no-where over a long period of time or you end up with something that does not actually meet the organizational needs. Continue to review plan via asking such as: In what level, is "just enough" enough? Is planning adding another layer of complexity or bureaucracy, or is planning out of touch? 
  1. The point where you have to "stop planning" is: When "planning" starts to interfere with "executing": What is the "right level" of planning? It is whatever is needed to get you off the ground & running. In today's world, the business context keeps changing constantly, so plans will need to be revised constantly. As long as you recognize that & cater for it, things should work out fine. 
  1. Planning is integral to every undertaking - the question is how much of what we'd do instinctively should be explicitly recorded for peer-review and the informed approval by the authorities. The answer lies in the understanding of the fact that validated records alone improve our worth as professionals; with experience (which need not necessarily be ours only), we hope to reach a capability maturity to "measure once, cut once." 
  1. The justification of a planning activity in business terms - not just the technical planning. But the cohesive planning can serve both purposes if undertaken at the right time. Planning takes a majority of the overall effort to deliver results in terms of profitability and solutions. The trick is, that at each stage, the project can be rejected, meaning that the earlier funds are wasted. The alternative was to develop something that wasn't planned properly - or, even worse, planned well but offered insufficient benefits for the customer to justify the cost. On the lighter side, often getting the right people in a room for brainstorm itself can lead to superior planning. 
  1. The mantra for planning success would be to follow the Software Agile model of a) Shape Agile mindset for planning and management via iterative communication, incremental business goals, customer-centric view, and the plan is shareware, not shelf-ware. b) Get the bigger picture clear on what, when and how to achieve based on the dollar value and available resources. c) Then plan a little and try implementing to see immediate results to verify against the expectations. If on right track then plan as you go or if time permits then Plan completely first, then Execute, Monitor throughout for auditing and Close it successfully to live up to the track record of successful relationship management. d) In real life, there may be plenty of mix and match and it is purely requirements based, amalgamated with constraints and KPIs of striving for perfection.                                                                                       


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