The project plan lacked any detail. It was too high level and there was only a small percentage chance that this project would be delivered on time, to budget and with the right results.
This is a real live example of something I came across recently and unfortunately, I find that this is all too common with project plans; lack of detail is the curse of the project manager!
So, what can be done? Well, it really is simple. You use one word to help you. That one word is; HOW? What do I mean by this?
You identify that you have to write a report as part of the project. For some plans we see a one line which simply points to ‘write report’. But, is that all that is involved? By keep asking HOW you can begin to pull out activities that you may need to do:
research the topic (ask how?)
visit key stakeholders to seek their views (ask how?)
arrange meetings with stakeholders
record meetings with stakeholders confirming what they said – by email
contact internal finance people for financial input
draft the report
submit the report
You will note that each of the above activities can be broken down even further.
People we have worked with seem to carry project plans in their heads. When we ask them what is involved they know, they can say it the problem is putting it down on paper for others to know and to follow!
To deliver your project you will need detail and our experience shows that this is often lacking. That detail gives you the chance to identify predecessors and put estimates of time and money against each activity and if you wish, draw a Gantt chart.
The skill is quick to master but takes time to do effectively. Maybe this is the real problem?