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Planning of Projects

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  • Planning of Projects

    Hello,

    I was wondering do you plan out projects and in what detail or you just take the current next actions on all fronts and go along this way?

    Obviously a plan is a good thing to stay focused and on track, but in my practice plans do tend to change pretty often (the details, not so much the general outline or the end goal) so in the end it's pretty inefficient to update the plan all the time.

    Now, just getting the next actions is a much simpler solution, but it kind of tends to make me wonder where is it all going and occupies my mind with working out a quick plan in order to make things clear for it.

  • #2
    Hi John,

    I have been struggling with project for some time but eventually I have found that pretty much all of my projects are best managed through the simple approach of just on big project list. Next actions for the different projects come from looking to that list during the Weekly review.

    This doesn's mean that I don't have or write Project plans or other documents like reports but I most times in those documents you won't be able to find Next Actions to do. These documents are in the support folder for the project, especially when the project is big.

    When I am working pretty much full time on a big project I have found that the flow of the project is managed quite well using the Natural Planning Model.

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    • #3
      It depends on the project. To get new tires for my car, all I need is the next action. To write a 40,000 word report, it helps to have an outline, a work plan, deadlines and milestones, etc. To build a bridge or a major software project, you might need full scale project management tools.

      Katherine

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      • #4
        OK. Well, let's say it's a software project (but not very major) - how would you proceed?

        Can you give some more specific example of how the planning of such a project would go?

        My problem is that a software project can have so many variables that change all the time that I actually get overwhelmed and confused and lost at times... And I find myself going back to it and creating a new plan that takes into consideration the new variables and then when things change a bit I need to make a new plan to sum it all up just to keep it clear in my head and so on. But making new plans all the time, apart from being time-consuming, also gets irritating.

        So there must be some more "variable" planning solution, that would help keep all in perspective without changing the whole thing...

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        • #5
          Interesting! However, the topic of how to plan a major software project is really outside the scope of this forum.

          I say, Google it; there are plenty of sites and blogs that talk about how to create a Software Development Plan.

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          • #6
            Hi John,

            You might want to look at the SCRUM method voor software development. There are a lot of resources on the web on that method.

            But even in a variable software development project you can get by on a day to day basis with the basic GTD approaches of next actions and visualisation of the outcome. Success!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Test_John View Post
              OK. Well, let's say it's a software project (but not very major) - how would you proceed?
              Like any other project, first you have to define what done means. Then you have to define what doing looks like.

              Where software development is concerned, I consider such a project "done" when it's implemented into production and runs for a specified period of time without any defects. In my company, it's 30 days before service takes ownership. Doing includes lots of activities such as brainstorming, analyzing, coding, reviewing, but it also includes e-mails, phone calls, and meetings with people.


              Originally posted by Test_John View Post
              My problem is that a software project can have so many variables that change all the time that I actually get overwhelmed and confused and lost at times... And I find myself going back to it and creating a new plan that takes into consideration the new variables and then when things change a bit I need to make a new plan to sum it all up just to keep it clear in my head and so on. But making new plans all the time, apart from being time-consuming, also gets irritating.

              First, don't overplan. Plan as little as you can get by with and leave the rest to your intuition. Second, if your next action involves planning and that's creating overwhelm, all you need to do to get your mind to let go is decide what your next action is about doing that planning and park the reminder on the appropriate action list. It could be brainstorming, setting up a meeting, making a phone call, sending an e-mail, etc.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
                First, don't overplan. Plan as little as you can get by with and leave the rest to your intuition.
                Thanks! That's some great advise!

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                • #9
                  Software Development Planning

                  Hi,

                  I find that both Mindmapping and Flowdiagrams work well for software projects (mainly web development) for me at the moment.

                  I tend to draw up a system spec for the project and then keep a change log for major deviations from the plan. You could also use a risk log to plan for deviations, slippage etc and employ countermeasures, such as delaying changes until a next release or delaying the project with the extra development time to include the changes. I find reviewing both Change and Risk logs together help to manage timescales, budgets and expectations.

                  I recently implemented a new Website where there were major changes requested when the project was 70-80% complete, we re-negotiated those changes to be included in a subsequent release which stopped the project deadline slipping and meant we launched 3 weeks earlier than originally scheduled.

                  Although it might be a bit heavy for general use, have you looked at some elements of the Prince2 Project Management Methodology? You may find a few tools or techniques, such as Change and Risk Logs which may help.

                  Ross.

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