Building an Effective Plan

Building an Effective Plan

Building an Effective Plan
Building an Effective Plan 

Typically, a schedule has to be developed before the project team is properly formed and before the project team members have much understanding of the overall project. In many cases, this schedule forms a part of the contract, is used for assessing contractual delays and obligations and cannot be easily changed. Even where strict contractual obligations are absent, there is a strong expectation from the projects senior managers and “clients” that a schedule will be developed and the forecast dates are accurate. 
The typical response from project managers to these imperatives has typically fallen into one of two categories: 
  • The “planning expert” is called in, and the expert is asked to prepare a schedule.     
  • Alternatively, the Project Manager spends a few very late nights generating the schedule on his/her own.
The resulting schedule can be a very accurate and contractually effective document and may prove valuable insights into the overall project. However, the ownership of the schedule is totally vested with its developer and as a consequence, the rest of the project team feel little commitment to it. Experienced planners are often aware of this risk and work to off set the ownership issues and “sell” the plan to the overall project team but this process at best is an attempt to “retrofit” ownership after the event.
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Make sure that the schedule being seen as an important, accurate and effective tool by the project team, ie. the schedule is “owned” by the project team as a whole, not just the planners. Creating and maintaining this sense of ownership is the Key. 
The key considerations are:      
  • Involve as many people as possible in the creation of the schedule. In particular, ask for dates and durations from the people responsible for each task.     
  • Ensure a full review process is carried out as this spreads ownership.     
  • Deal openly with all comments, questions and objections.     
  • Ensure all key stakeholders sign off on the agreed schedule.
This process can be carried out in a facilitated workshop (Interactive Planning Sessions) or can be achieved by informal discussions facilitated by the project planner. In either situation, the schedule development should follow a sequential process and the team members are involved at each stage.


The key interaction is a “questioning” process where the planner poses a problem, issue or alternative and asks the team to provide the actual input.
The sequence of events generally follows this pattern:  
1. Decompose the overall project scope into discrete tasks that:      
  • Are of an appropriate size.     
  • Have a clear start and end.     
  • Have a single “owner”.
2. Define the dependant logic structure for the tasks:      
  • Only use real logic (i.e. what must be completed before this task).     
  • Where possible avoid lags and overlaps.     
  • If necessary, split or amalgamate tasks to facilitate the creation of a “sensible” network.
3. Define the optimum duration and resource requirements for each task:      
  • Resource levels should be “optimum” for the task.     
  • Do not analyse overall time or resource requirements yet. Focus on each task in isolation.
4. Run Time Analysis:      
  • This is the optimum overall schedule duration.     
  • Identify any problems and issues.     
  • Refer back to the team and “brain storm” solutions to specific problems.     
  • Check the results - at the end of this process the shortest practical schedule will have been agreed by the team. 
5. Now deal with the reality check - analyse the overall resource requirements:      
  • Initially, simply smooth the resource requirements and see if adequate resources can be obtained to achieve the optimum ‘Time Analysis’ date.     
  • Where resources are limited, commence resource levelling and balancing processes, depending on the project, the trade off is between; time, cost, quality, scope and the available resources.     
  • As they are identified, refer each problem back to the project team for analysis and resolution. Where appropriate, involve key external stakeholders in the processes. 
6. Undertake a risk assessment (i.e. PERT) and build in appropriate mitigation and / or contingency factors.
7. Finalise the schedule and obtain agreement:      
  • Baseline the schedule.     
  • Obtain original signatures from all of the key stakeholders.     
  • Present the plan in detail to the project team.     
  • Make the plan matter. 
At the end of this process several key outcomes should have been achieved, both within the project team and within the wider stakeholder community. These outcomes should include:      The overall scope and “road map” through to completion is clearly defined.     
  • The project team has a clear understanding of 
  • the overall project and their roles and responsibilities.     
  • Each team member “owns” the scope and duration of the tasks allocated to them.     
  • Resource owners have physically “signed off” on their agreement to make adequate resources available to the project. 
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                                               Dariusz Wolejszo
Project Control specialist offering more than 15 years of leadership in design, construction, project development, and commissioning of high-profile oil, gas, petrochemical and power facilities.  Strong experience in a project controls management role, working for international construction companies.  Great understanding of Planning, Cost, Estimating, and document control. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills. 
Team player, self-driven and good in high pressure dynamic situations.  People and result orientated individual with strong understanding the motivational requirements whilst working in projected organizations.  
Oil & Gas (Onshore & Offshore), Power Plants, Shipyards, Railway – ERTMS

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