Project Quality and Resource Management
The success of any project is largely attributable to its planning process (Munns & Bjeirmi, 2012, p. 82). Project planning is the process that entails determining the goals, scope, timeframe, resources and essential steps that will facilitate the achievement of the objective objectives (Muller & Turner, 2016, p. 298). Project planning process results in the project management plan (Devi & Reddy, 2014, p. 684). The project management plan must comprise all the critical activities, events and any other element that is deemed vital for its execution. To achieve a successful project implementation, requires the project manager to have a comprehensive project plan that defines the process and the approach the project management team will use to execute the project according to its scope (Gregory, 2012).Every project irrespective how comprehensive, big and lengthy it is, needs a plan that will keep the project team in line with its scope and deadlines. Additionally, the project plan acts a tool of communicating fundamental information to the project stakeholders. According to Stare (2014, p. 296), this is an integral part of any project. The project plan is more than dates, and therefore, it is the duty of the project managers to make sure that it is designed at the appropriate time. Ideally, the project plan preparation should be close to the date of starting the actual project execution. This because project plan determines the whole process of the project and any deviation from the project requirements, it may lead to the crumbling of the whole project (Iivari & Iivari, 2013, p. 510). However, there are those who argue that the planning of the project should be made early enough before the implementation of the actual project.
Based on the above conflicting arguments this paper will strive to discuss how comprehensive project plan before the start of the project facilitates to effective governance of the project. Secondly, the paper will examine whether detailed project planning is most effective immediately before the start of the project. Thirdly, the paper will analyze different opinions and suggestions from different sources and authors about the planning of the project. In the discussion about the arguments on project planning, the paper will revolve around that argument that “Detailed project planning upfront at the start of the project is essential to support effective governance of projects and ensure that projects are delivering value to the organization.”
Contribution of Detailed Planning Before the Start of the Project
For the detailed project planning to be contributive in the project implementation, it must address some critical questions (Muller & Turner, 2016, p. 302). First, the project plan should elaborate the major deliverables of the project. Secondly, the deadline for the project activities and a team that will be accrued with the responsibility of ensuring the execution of the project activities. Thirdly, defining the project team and the role each team will play in the in the planned project deliverables. Fourth, the timeframe available for the team to meet the project deliverables. Fifth, the available resources to facilitate the execution of all project activities. Sixth, the project plan must have available alternatives on how to deal with variances in the project.
With the observance of the above issues, the plan will be able to offer benefits associated with the detailed project plan. Detailed planning before the start of the project helps in allocating tasks. All the project tasks must be allocated to specific team or person. With comprehensive project plan, will help the project manager to avoid assigning a single tasks to more than one team or group, a practice that results in conflict of interests ( Serrador & Pinto, 2015, p. 1042). Also, having a detailed project plan facilitates the clear allocation of responsibilities and get rid of the mismatch of the skills set. Again, a project plan will enable the project manager to break the complicated task into smaller and more distinct parts and allocate them the different specific teams (Gregory, 2012, p. 18).
Secondly, the detailed project plan helps the project manager to manage the risks that may occur during the implementation of the project. It is evident that projects are prone to the problems and risks. However, with the good project plan, all the risks will be monitored and managed appropriately (Martinsuo, 2013, p. 780). The project plan contains anticipated risks that might occur at the various stages of the project execution. This is followed by laying down the plans on how to deal with these risks in the event they occur. These are some of the basic aspects of managing risks that detailed project plan addresses (Munns & Bjeirmi, 2012, p. 84). Besides, project managers can carry out a risk assessment to determine how some of the risks can be avoided.
Resource management is another contribution provided by the detail project plan before the starting of the actual project. In the project plan, the project manager and team will identify all the essential capital resources that will be used in the execution of the project (Serrado & Turner, 2013). This will enable the smooth running of the project without equipment failure, staffing changes or inventory shortages. Besides, the project manager can use project plan to reschedule resources to make sure the potential losses or wastages are avoided. For example, the manager can adopt a strategy of delaying some of the projects to save extra resources that be required.
Detailed project plan, identifies the weaknesses that may accrue in the project during implementation. Project weaknesses may hamper the progress, cause delays or force the project to demand extra resources (Abdullah et al., 2011, p. 86). However, with a good project plan in place, all the weaknesses that might accrue the project will be identified and appropriate strategies put in place to address them in case they occur. According to Kerzner (2009, p. 37) effective project planning evaluates the activities of the planned project and identify the weak spots and provide corrective measures in the event, they contribute to risks. Some of the weaknesses that can be addressed by the sound project planning include competing priorities, reallocation of budget and resource shortages.
Finally, sound project planning is the reason behind effective budget planning (Gregory, 2012, p. 12). Projects execution requires the employment of the resources. Bearing in mind that resources are always limited, good budget planning in needed to avoid wastage and high costs that might get in as the result of poor planning (Seymour, 2014, p. 235). With project planning in place, the project manager will be able to create realistic estimates that will aid the execution of all the project activities. Alternatively, the good project plan will allow the creation of the budget plan that permits the injection of extra resources in the event of uncertainties that may contribute to the employment of extra resources than outlined in the budget plan.Effectiveness of the Project Planning Up Front the Project
In the above discussion, it has come out clear that project planning is very important for the governance of the project. However, the critical debate has continued to exist on what is the right time to have a project plan. Many scholars have argued it would be appropriate to have project plan within the significant time before the start of the project. On the other side, other authors have argued that agile project methodologies provide the best practices of project management and therefore the project plan should be made immediately before the start of the project. The argument between the two different groups of authors brings in confusion in what is the best methodology to adopt. This paper finds that the two approaches are important and therefore recommends that both of them should be applied. This discussion holds that both strategies of preparing the project plan will have the benefits during the governance of the project implementation.
In the earlier discussion, this paper looks more on the benefits of having a project plan early enough before the starting of the actual project. It is also important to evaluate some of the benefits associated with having a project plan immediately before the starting of the project. In the discussion below, this paper will explore some of the advantages of having a project upfront to the start of the project. Upfront project planning has proved to be one of the critical elements surrounding the project management. Therefore, before the start of the project, the project manager should set enough time to enable him to have a well-organized, productive and successful project plan.
Upfront project planning eliminates the changes that comes in when the project is about to start (Niranjan, 2015, p. 451). Having the project plan early before its actual start-up may cause the project to suffer from the changes that should be included in the complete project plan before its commencement. Those you stress on having the plan early before the start of the project disregard project plan as a mere document that should be designed and put in storage to allow the project team to get in the real work (Martinsuo, 2013, p. 796). However, preparing the project plan at the commencement of the project gives an opportunity to the project manager to lead and direct his team appropriately.
Having a project plan created upfront to the project will facilitate to effective management of the people. It will help the project manager to determine the number of people and the skill portfolio that will be necessary to ensure that the objectives and the goals of the project are achieved. According to Hewagamage & Hewagamage (2011, p. 93) assessing the skills needed for the running of the project immediately before the start of the project is the secret behind the successful project execution. This because project execution is prone to dynamics and therefore, having the project plan at the early stages of the project, it will help the project manager to make necessary changes in the already completed project plan.
The projects are full of uncertainties. What had been included in the project plan a few months before the start of the project may be irrelevant at the begging of the project. However, having an up-front project will help to address these uncertainties appropriately. Therefore, it is important to have a project plan almost at the startup of the project to help in reducing the uncertainties that might occur (Seymour, 2014, p. 235). According to O’Sheedy (2012, p. 31) having a project plan designed at the beginning of the project helps to assess the current project environment and anticipate the uncertainties that are likely to hamper its success and productivity. This should be accompanied by the appropriate corrective measures that should be applied to counteract the uncertainties in the event of their occurrence.
Upfront project planning increases understanding. As the paper has noted in the above paragraph, projects exist in the dynamic environment and what was perceived to be suitable project environment during the designing of the project plan may be unfavorable environment at the begging of the project. Therefore, having a project plan preparation at the early stages of the project will help in understanding the current project environment and evaluate whether the environment can be appropriate for the achievement of project goals and objectives.
The project plan before the immediate start of the project improves efficiency ( Karaman & Kurt, 2015, p. 574). When the actual work of the project is about to commence all the necessary resources made available as well as the project team. If the project plan is designed at this stage, it will be able for the project plan team to put into consideration all the critical issues that promote the success of the project as well as the ones that can hinder the realization of the project goals and objectives.
Based on the argument whether up front plan is important before the beginning of the project based on the positions of the two groups, this paper opts to go for a neutral position. Based on the above discussion, this paper finds out that there are numerous benefits associated with the project plan before the start of the project. On the other side, the paper also finds that projects are prone dynamics and therefore the project plan that was deemed vital for the execution of the project may become a mere document to be kept on the shelves in the event of uncertainties.