One of the things that you’ll run into quite commonly in larger software implementations are detailed project plans. For many, the availability of a prioritized and precedent ranked chart provides security and an organized path that is the map to your eventual go live. Often created in Microsoft Project, the plan can sometimes feature over 1000k line items. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but all this plan really manages to provide is a throbbing headache.
Let’s start at the beginning. In order to properly schedule this plan, you’ve got to coordinate the schedules of your staff, as well as the vendors. You’ll need to build in holidays, summer schedules, and verify that the right people are available on the right days. It’s a breeze to get to version 10 of the plan before everything starts to fall into line. And then it happens.
Someone misses a deadline. The project scope changes. The software is not what you thought it was. Staff turns over. Maternity leave. What your left with (inevitably) is a broken plan, that’s not useful, and wasted a lot of your time at the crucial start of the project. I expect that experienced project managers are saying, “not my projects”. Again, I’m sorry, but in a day in age when we’re being asked to do more – with less – faster – and better, we not only should, we must, question how we do things. Detailed project management plans are just extra overheard.
So what should you do? Break the project down into 4-5 major pieces. Review the responsibilities and key stake holders that will be needed during those times. Agree on a launch date well before you need something to be live. Review only the major gateways (we need this, before we can do this). Expect the unexpected. Finally, rely on the project manager to manage the project. In the end, it’s not a fancy plan that guarantees success. It is the commitment of all parties involved, and it is this pact that steers the project through the many bumps in the road.