10 Planning Mistakes Project Teams Make
Product development is hard, but with the right short and long-term planning in place, launching ahead of schedule is possible. Here are 10 common planning mistakes to avoid in order to accelerate your project delivery.
Not planning at all
In product development you can count on a lot of change. Constant change is alluring — it sucks you in and keeps you coming to work, excited to solve the next problem. But the constant change also causes project teams to think planning just isn’t worth it. However, without a plan, chaos ensues. Create a plan with both a short and longer term view that flexes as things change.
Leaving planning in the hands of the project manager alone
Please don’t misunderstand, we love project managers! However, in product development, team member’s activities in many cases are so specialized that only the team understands at the detailed level what needs to get done and how long it will take. So, after you agree on the high-level activities, adopt a decentralized approach to planning and let the experts fill in the details.
Not having enough detail in short-term plans
Related to decentralized planning, short-term plans need to be detailed, otherwise critical tasks and risks may not rise to the surface in time to be effectively mitigated -- causing unwanted project delays.
Too much detail in the long-term plan
Although we believe in creating a long-term view of the project, things will change. So, don’t go crazy planning in detail for a future you can’t control, it will just make more work to update. Keep it high-level and fill in the details as knowledge becomes available using a rolling wave or sprint planning approach.
Not revisiting the plan often enough - part 1 (rolling wave planning)
We recommend that teams revisit the plan every week. Smaller updates done more frequently keep the plan far more accurate, which is necessary to ensure everyone has clear and correct priorities (and therefore eliminate those evil daily slips). This is where teams can take what they have learned and make changes accordingly. Thirty minutes of planning each week goes a long way to save future rework and mitigate risk.
Not revisiting the plan often enough - part 2
Meet daily to take the learnings from yesterday and make changes to the short-term plan as required.
Not using the plan to reach the project’s objectives
The plan is the digital model of the project. Just like a CAD model can tell you about issues in your product design, the plan can tell you where the problems are so you can fix them before they impact your next milestone. The right visual management tool will show you the short and long-term view and be a no-brainer to update.
Not resource loading the plan
Resource management is paramount to your success. Team members that are working on the critical path that are overloaded or pulled away to help on another project create unrecoverable project delays. The only way to assess resource loading is to estimate the amount of effort (work) in hours that each task requires.
Not taking corrective action to alleviate resource overloads
Ensure your tool notifies you of resource conflicts before they occur and take corrective action.
Not including risk-mitigation activities in the plan
Risk identification and mitigation smooths out project turbulence, but teams so often forget to include time for risk management in their plan. Take the time to tease out what could go wrong so you can block issues before they occur.
Planning--both short and long term--accelerates project and product delivery, ultimately impacting your bottom line.
Check out our Lean project management guide where we share more tips on project acceleration.
Lean project management
Lean project management methodology
Lean project management Kanban
Lean project management principles
Lean project management resource management
Lean project management Pull vs. push
Lean project management task management
Lean project management and shared project buffers
Lean project management and decentralized planning
Daily stand-up meetings