"I love it when a plan comes together." — Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, The A-Team
Project plans are tough. No matter how many times you do them – they are always tough. I’ve been doing them for years, and yet the path from zero to a "good enough" plan is always a lot of work. But it’s worth it. It’s often what separates the failed projects from the successful ones. When a project fails, you can usually find clues in the plan (or lack of.)
Regardless of how you get there or how you share the plan, the following are essential elements:
- Problem statement
- Customer / who’s it for
- Vision / strategy
- Tests for success
- Measures / metrics
- Scenarios / stories
- Resource map
- A map of the work (work breakdown structure)
In question form, some simple checks are:
- What are the most important outcomes?
- Do we know what good looks like?
- Who’s doing what when?
- What’s the minimum we need to accomplish or it’s not worth it?
It’s worth noting that projects often fail because
- Lack of clarity on the goal
- Lack of understanding the work (work breakdown structure)
Interestingly, I know of some executive reviews that boil down to two cutting questions:
- What’s the investment?
- What are the results?
It helps answer the higher question — “Why are we doing this and does it make business sense?”