My Secret Project Planning Tip …. Do Not Tell My Sponsor!

It is inevitable that projects run into difficultly; tasks take longer than expected or issues come from nowhere. In this blog post I will outline how with a clever planning trick you can buy the project time to resolve these challenges and still remain on schedule.

Planning Tip

One of the difficulties projects face is stakeholders become transfixed on delivery dates and as soon as a task slips these dates can not be met. The project manager is then under pressure to try and squeeze the project in order to hit a delivery date.It would make more sense to slip the project a bit to delivery a quality product.

What the project manager needs is a bit of breathing space to resolve any issues, move tasks around and reassign resources. Giving the project manager freedom to move on the project will result in a better quality delivered outcome. The problem is organisations push for an early delivery and are often not willing to allow the project manager to have any slack in the plan. My project planning tip gets around this problem albeit in a slightly underhand way, but it works.

Secret Planning Tip (ssssshhhhhh don’t tell my sponsor)

  • Step 1 – Open your plan in your software product of choice
  • Step 2 – Set Friday to a non working day and your plan will move out by a number of weeks (depends on length of the plan)
  • Step 3 – Communicate these dates to your sponsor and stakeholders
  • Step 4 – Go back to your plan and set Friday as a working day and your plan will move back
  • Step 5 – These are the dates that the project team work to

Now you have a buffer between when your tasks are due to be completed and when they are expected. Come in early and stakeholders will think the project is a roaring success. If you hit a problem and recover the situation within the buffer and the stakeholders will think the project has gone well.

What do you think? Do you have any project planning tips that increase your chance of successfully delivering a project?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Cesar Abeid

    Barry, thanks for this tip.

    I read once that you don’t want to deliver early, as it may show poor judgement on your estimating skills, and decreases the perceived value of the deliverable. Have you ever experienced that?

    Cesar Abeid
    Project Management for the Masses Podcast
    http://pmforthemasses.com

  • I have never had the experience of working for an organisation that is good at estimating projects. I think it is a bit of a difficult dark art and with organisations keen to just get on with the project estimation is often missed.
    I therefore have only had stakeholders that are pleased that the project has been delivered!

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