Thoughts on Technical Project Management in the Freelance Economy and the Future of Work

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Here’s Why Planning is the Most Important Project Phase

I organize projects into four high-level phases. Doing this provides a simple and consistent frame of reference for everyone involved in the project. The first phase, Planning/Initiation, is the most important project phase.

The Planning/Initiation phase sets the foundation for the other phases. It’s often overlooked in the excitement and urgency inherent to launching a new project.

Here are the major activities in the Planning/Initiation phase -

-Develop client requirements

A project's dead in the water without these.​

-Present/align/iterate/confirm client requirements and expectations

This is a critical step. The excitement and urgency of getting a project moving causes this step to get skipped a lot.

-​Determine/assign required resources

You need to know who’s doing what.

-​Develop plan

This will be the roadmap for the project. Adjustments will be necessary to keep the project synchronized over its lifecycle. The best plans need to be flexible, since it’s impossible know what’s going to happen in “real life”, when a project starts.

-​Confirm plan with client

Again, this is another critical step that’s often overlooked. Do what it takes to get your client’s attention long enough to confirm the plan with them.

-Agree to a process to introduce and implement changes to the original plan, as required​

The best plans need to be flexible, since it’s impossible know what’s going to happen in “real life”, when a project starts. This step introduces the possibility of change early and reduces resistance to change later in the project.

Don’t skip the Planning/Initiation stage of your project. Don’t let your client convince you to, either.

The project will have a much greater chance at success when this phase happens. You and your stakeholders will be happier as a result.

P.S. Planning/Initiation is the first of my four dead simple project phases. Read this post to learn about all four phases.