Fundamentals Of Project Management

Of project management by james p lewis amacom books

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Unformatted text preview: te: 01/01/95 Search Tips Search this book: Advanced Search Previous Table of Contents Next Title ----------- Chapter 2 A General Approach to Project Planning We don’t know where we’re going, but we’re getting there really fast! THE IMPORTANCE OF PLANNING By “shadowing” managers, management professor Henry Mintzberg of McGill University has found that there is a great discrepancy between what they actually do and what management theory says they should do. One area of disparity appears to be in planning. Most managers talk about it, yet many seem reluctant to actually do it. A major reason for this appears to be cultural. To illustrate, one well-known company arranged to have about 2,000 people spend two weeks planning a major project. When the members of the accounting department multiplied 2,000 people by 80 hours by $50-per-hour labor rates (overhead included) and looked at the total of $8 million, they had cardiac arrest. “You’re going to spend $8 million planning the project, and we’re not going to get anything for it?” they said. We tend to view planning as a waste, since we don’t get anything (meaning anything concrete) for it. Then, too, in our extremely breakneck, lightspeed world, isn’t it really better to just get on with it—to make something happen, anything!—than to spend time sitting around speculating about what might happen and how to deal with it? Isn’t it true that we don’t really have time to plan? Fair questions. Let’s see if they can be answered logically and definitively. Control consists of comparing where you are to where you are supposed to be, then taking corrective action if there is a discrepancy. Planning and Control—Siamese Twins Managers are supposed to control the application of scarce organization resources to achieve desired results. In a sense, management and control are synonymous. The question is, what is control? The old connotation implied authoritarianism, domination, the control of people. Another meaning, however, is the definition given in the sidebar—comparing progress to planned performance, then correcting for deviations. That is an information systems definition of control. Note that it is your plan that tells you where you are supposed to be; if you have no plan, you have nothing to compare progress against, so without a plan, control is impossible to achieve! This should be one of the Ten Commandments of management: you must plan in order to control! That is why planning and control have been called Siamese twins—you cannot separate them. Planning is done only so that control can be achieved. No need to do it otherwise. Since control is comparing progress to plan, without the plan there is no control. I can hear the uproar now! What about fighting fires? You can’t plan firefighting, and that is a way of life where we live! You’ve got to be putting us on. In the first place, we have fire drills to plan for fighting fires. We have practice sessions...
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This document was uploaded on 09/27/2013.

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