The Planning Cycle

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An overview of a planning process.

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  • This planning process is primarily for small to mid-size projects. By planning within this structure, you will ensure that your plans are well focused, practical, cost-effective and measurable. You will also ensure that you learn from any mistakes you make, and feed this back into future planning and Decision Making.
  • It must be designed within you capabilities.
  • It must be designed within your budget.
  • nce you have devised a plan you should evaluate whether it is likely to succeed. This evaluation may be cost or number based, or may use other analytical tools. This analysis may show that your plan may cause unwanted consequences, may cost too much, or may simply not work.   In this case you should cycle back to an earlier stage. Alternatively you may have to abandon the plan altogether - the outcome of the planning process may be that it is best to do nothing!   Finally, you should feed back what you have learned with one plan into the next.  
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  •   How to Use the Tool: Scheduling is best done on a regular basis, for example at the start of every week or month. Go through the following steps in preparing your schedule: Start by identifying the time you want to make available for your work. This will depend on the design of your job and on your personal goals in life. Next, block in the actions you absolutely must take to do a good job. These will often be the things you are assessed against. For example, if you manage people, then you must make time available for dealing with issues that arise, coaching, and supervision. Similarly, you must allow time to communicate with your boss and key people around you. (While people may let you get away with 'neglecting them' in the short-term, your best time management efforts will surely be derailed if you do not set aside time for those who are important in your life.) Review your To Do List, and schedule in the high-priority urgent activities, as well as the essential maintenance tasks that cannot be delegated and cannot be avoided. Next, block in appropriate contingency time. You will learn how much of this you need by experience. Normally, the more unpredictable your job, the more contingency time you need. The reality of many people's work is of constant interruption: Studies show some managers getting an average of as little as six minutes uninterrupted work done at a time. Obviously, you cannot tell when interruptions will occur. However, by leaving space in your schedule, you give yourself the flexibility to rearrange your schedule to react effectively to issues as they arise. What you now have left is your "discretionary time": the time available to deliver your priorities and achieve your goals. Review your Prioritized To Do List and personal goals, evaluate the time needed to achieve these actions, and schedule these in.
  •   How to Use the Tool: Scheduling is best done on a regular basis, for example at the start of every week or month. Go through the following steps in preparing your schedule: Start by identifying the time you want to make available for your work. This will depend on the design of your job and on your personal goals in life. Next, block in the actions you absolutely must take to do a good job. These will often be the things you are assessed against. For example, if you manage people, then you must make time available for dealing with issues that arise, coaching, and supervision. Similarly, you must allow time to communicate with your boss and key people around you. (While people may let you get away with 'neglecting them' in the short-term, your best time management efforts will surely be derailed if you do not set aside time for those who are important in your life.) Review your To Do List, and schedule in the high-priority urgent activities, as well as the essential maintenance tasks that cannot be delegated and cannot be avoided. Next, block in appropriate contingency time. You will learn how much of this you need by experience. Normally, the more unpredictable your job, the more contingency time you need. The reality of many people's work is of constant interruption: Studies show some managers getting an average of as little as six minutes uninterrupted work done at a time. Obviously, you cannot tell when interruptions will occur. However, by leaving space in your schedule, you give yourself the flexibility to rearrange your schedule to react effectively to issues as they arise. What you now have left is your "discretionary time": the time available to deliver your priorities and achieve your goals. Review your Prioritized To Do List and personal goals, evaluate the time needed to achieve these actions, and schedule these in.
  •   How to Use the Tool: Scheduling is best done on a regular basis, for example at the start of every week or month. Go through the following steps in preparing your schedule: Start by identifying the time you want to make available for your work. This will depend on the design of your job and on your personal goals in life. Next, block in the actions you absolutely must take to do a good job. These will often be the things you are assessed against. For example, if you manage people, then you must make time available for dealing with issues that arise, coaching, and supervision. Similarly, you must allow time to communicate with your boss and key people around you. (While people may let you get away with 'neglecting them' in the short-term, your best time management efforts will surely be derailed if you do not set aside time for those who are important in your life.) Review your To Do List, and schedule in the high-priority urgent activities, as well as the essential maintenance tasks that cannot be delegated and cannot be avoided. Next, block in appropriate contingency time. You will learn how much of this you need by experience. Normally, the more unpredictable your job, the more contingency time you need. The reality of many people's work is of constant interruption: Studies show some managers getting an average of as little as six minutes uninterrupted work done at a time. Obviously, you cannot tell when interruptions will occur. However, by leaving space in your schedule, you give yourself the flexibility to rearrange your schedule to react effectively to issues as they arise. What you now have left is your "discretionary time": the time available to deliver your priorities and achieve your goals. Review your Prioritized To Do List and personal goals, evaluate the time needed to achieve these actions, and schedule these in.
  • The Planning Cycle

    1. 1. The Planning CycleThe Planning Cycle will explain the process of planning for small to mid-size projects.Having a Planning Methodology will enable your company to build quicker and moreefficient plans. It will provide a repeatable process for planning, prioritizing, approving,executing and measuring. Business 901 “if it’s worth doing, its worth doing Now” www.business901.com info@business901.com
    2. 2. The Planning Cycle People Product Process The Planning Cycle is about the intersection of people, process and the product that will be produced. Managing the efforts of this intersection is what the planning cycle does.Business 901 www.business901.com
    3. 3. The Planning Cycle Do not think of planning as a straight-through process. Planning Analysis Design Construct Implement Feedback Most people when they think of a plan, they think of a step by step by step approach. Good plans have built in flexibility but never are step by step.Business 901 www.business901.com
    4. 4. The Planning Cycle It is best to think of planning as a Cycle. Every time we initiate an action in the planning cycle, it is then implemented with feedback provided on that action. In this way, it is a very active process that requires action on a continuous basis. Planning using this cycle will help you to plan and manage ongoing projects. Once you have devised a Initiate Implement plan you should evaluate whether it is likely to succeed. This evaluation may be cost or number based, or may use other analytical tools. This analysis may show that your plan may cause unwanted consequences, may cost too much, or may simply not work. In this case you should cycle back to an earlier stage. Alternatively you may have to abandon the plan altogether - the outcome of the planning process may be that it is best to do nothing! Finally, Feedback, use what you Feedback have learned with one plan with the next.Business 901 www.business901.com
    5. 5. The Planning Cycle Ingredients  Well focused  Practical  Cost-effective  Measurable By planning within this structure, you will ensure that your plans are well focused, practical, cost-effective and measurable. You will also ensure that you learn from any mistakes you make, and feed this back into future planning and Decision Making.Business 901 www.business901.com
    6. 6. The Planning Cycle Ingredient Focus: Stakeholder based Plans that are not stakeholder based will seldom meet deadlines or finish within budgets constraints. A stakeholder based plan requires interaction between all parties including the customer or receiving party.Business 901 www.business901.com
    7. 7. The Planning Cycle Ingredient Practical: Systems based Planning must be done based on the systems, processes and people that you have in place. Creation of any of these items is a plan or project in itself. Success is largely determined by working within your existing capabilities.Business 901 www.business901.com
    8. 8. The Planning Cycle Ingredient Cost-Effective: Within your Budget Adhere to a budget. If there is not one, create one. Money is seldom not an issue but by forcing yourself to be realistic with a budget adds prudence to overall plan.Business901 www.business901.com
    9. 9. The Planning Cycle Ingredient Measurable: You have to keep score If you can’t measure it, how will you know when you succeed. Keeping score will provide measurable results and will let you know how well the plan is being carried out. People act on how they are measured. Good measures will result in good plans.Business 901 www.business901.com
    10. 10. The Planning Cycle Secret Sauce: Consider the worse alternativeBusiness 901 www.business901.com
    11. 11. The Planning Cycle Secret Sauce continued Take action to prevent the alternative: Before it happens! Fighting fires is very heroic, but typically costly. Preventative action should be decided upon in the feedback steps. Good firefighters go to a fire with a plan.Business 901 www.business901.com
    12. 12. The Planning Cycle The planning cycle consist of these steps: 1. Initiate 2. Identify aim 3. Explore Options 4. Selection of best option 5. Details planning 6. Plan evaluation 7. Implementation 8. Closure 9. FeedbackBusiness 901 www.business901.com
    13. 13. The Planning Cycle It looks like a step be step by step… but let me take you through the explanation of each step then analyze the actual planning cycle.Business 901 www.business901.com
    14. 14. The Planning Cycle 1. Initiate The first thing to do is to do is to spot what needs to be done. You will turn this into a formal aim at the next stage in the process. One approach to this is to examine your current position, and decide how you can improve it. There are a number of techniques that will help you to do this with the most popular being a SWOT Analysis or Risk Analysis. Alternatively, other people (e.g. clients) may be pressing you to change the way you do things. Alternatively your environment may be changing, and you may need to anticipate or respond to this. Pressures may arise from changes in the economy, new legislation, competition, changes in peoples attitudes, new technologies, or changes in government. A different approach is to use any of a whole range of creativity tools to work out where you can make improvements: 1. Reversal - Improving Products and Services 2. SCAMPER - Generating new products and services 3. Attribute Listing-Creating new products, services & strategies 4. Brainstorming - Generating many radical ideas 5. Reframing Matrix - Looking with different perspectives 6. Concept Fan - Widening the search for solutions 7. Random Input - Making creative leaps 8. Provocation - Carrying out thought experiments 9. DO IT - A simple process for creativity 10. Simplex - A powerful problem-solving processBusiness 901 www.business901.com
    15. 15. The Planning Cycle Success Ingredient: Begin with the end in mind 2. Identifying Aim Once you have completed a realistic analysis of the opportunities for change, the next step is to decide precisely what the aim of your plan is. Deciding and defining an aim sharpens the focus of your plan, and helps you to avoid wasting effort on irrelevant side issues. The aim is best expressed in a simple single sentence. This ensures that it is clear and sharp in your mind. If you are having difficulty in formulating the aim of your plan, ask yourself: 1. What do I want the future to be? 2. What benefit do I want to give to my customers? 3. What returns do I seek? 4. What standards am I aiming at? 5. What values do I and my organization believe in? You can present this aim as a Vision Statement or Mission Statement. Vision statements express the benefit that an organization will provide to its customers and Mission statements explain how it is to be achieved.Business 901 www.business901.com
    16. 16. The Planning Cycle Success Ingredient: You owe it to all stakeholders to research different options. 3. Exploring Options By this stage you should know where you are and what you want to do. The next thing to do is to work out how to do it. The Creativity Tools listed in step one can explain a wide range of powerful creativity tools that will help you to generate options. At this stage it is best to spend a little time generating as many options as possible, even though it is tempting just to grasp the first idea that comes to mind. By taking a little time to generate as many ideas as possible you may come up with less obvious but better solutions. Just as likely, you may improve your best ideas with parts of other ideas.Business 901 www.business901.com
    17. 17. The Planning Cycle Success Ingredient: If there is only 1 go back to step 3. 4. Selecting the Best Option Once you have explored the options available to you, it is time to decide which one to use. If you have the time and resources available, then you might decide to evaluate all options, carrying out detailed planning, costing, risk assessment, etc. for each. Normally you will not have this luxury. Three useful tools for selecting the best option are Grid Analysis, Evaporating Clouds and Decision Trees. Grid Analysis helps you to decide between different options where you need to consider a number of different factors. Decision Trees help you to think through the likely outcomes of following different courses of action. Evaporating Clouds is my favorite decision making tool and an extensive study is available through the Goldratt Institute founded by the author of the “The Goal.”Business 901 www.business901.com
    18. 18. The Planning Cycle Success Ingredient: It’s more than a schedule5. Detailed PlanningBy the time you start detailed planning, you should have a good picture of where you are, what you want to achieve and the range of options available to you. You may well have selected one of the options as the most likely to yield the best results. Detailed planning is the process of working out the most efficient and effective way of achieving the aim that you have defined. It is the process of determining who will do what, when, where, how and why, and at what cost.When drawing up the plan, techniques such as use of Gantt Charts and Critical Path Analysis can be immensely helpful in working out priorities, deadlines and the allocation of resources. While you are concentrating on the actions that need to be performed, ensure that you also think about the control mechanisms that you will need to monitor performance. These will include the activities such as reporting, quality assurance, cost control, etc. that are needed to spot and correct any deviations from the plan. A good plan will: 1. State the current situation 2. Have a clear aim 3. Use the resources available 4. Detail the tasks to be carried out, whose responsibility they are, their priorities and deadlines. 5. Detail control mechanisms that will alert you to difficulties in achieving the plan. 6. Identify risks, and plan for contingencies. This allows you to make a rapid and effective response to crises. 7. Consider transitional arrangements - how will you keep things going while you implement the plan?Business 901 www.business901.com
    19. 19. The Planning Cycle Success Ingredient: Be realistic about your ingredients 6. Evaluation of the Plan and its Impact Once you have worked out the details of your plan, the next stage is to review it to decide whether it is worth implementing. Here you must be objective - however much work you have carried out to reach this stage, the plan may still not be worth implementing. This is frustrating after the hard work of detailed planning. It is, however, much better to find this out now than when you have invested time, resources and personal standing in the success of the plan. Evaluating the plan now gives you the opportunity to either investigate other options that might be more successful, or to accept that no plan is needed or should be carried out. Depending on the circumstances, the following techniques can be helpful in evaluating a plan: 1. PMI (Plus/Minus/Interesting) 2. Cost/Benefit Analysis 3. Force Field Analysis 4. Cash Flow Forecasts 5. 6 Thinking Hats . If your analysis shows that the plan either will not give sufficient benefit, then either return to an earlier stage in the planning cycle or abandon the process altogether.Business 901 www.business901.com
    20. 20. The Planning Cycle Success Ingredient: A schedule is as important in the beginning as in the end. 7. Implementing Once you have completed your plan and decided that it will work satisfactorily, it is time to implement it. Your plan will explain how! It should also detail the controls that you will use to monitor the execution of the plan. Steps that will help you complete the project: 1. Adhere to the schedule and especially to the milestones. 2. Start as soon as possible on each task 3. Work on one task at a time. 4. Determine status with time remaining not with % completed. 5. Use critical path analysis to determine what to work on next. 6. Follow the game plan: 1. Huddle up each morning and after breaks. 2. Check resources for the right play. 3. When in trouble, add resources. 7. Emphasize communicationBusiness 901 www.business901.com
    21. 21. The Planning Cycle Success Ingredient: Simple if you began correctly. 8. Closing the Plan Closing a plan is only possible if it was defined at the beginning. Identifying you aim and having a measurable objective will allow easy acceptance at the end even if it is not was so easy at the beginning. Closure is relatively an easy task when done correctly. However, it does mean everything. Paperwork, release of personnel to other projects, budget analysis are just several of the items that need to be completed. A closing checklist once developed can serve as a guideline for numerous projects.Business 901 www.business901.com
    22. 22. The Planning Cycle Success Ingredient: The savings will show up next time. 9. Feedback Once you have achieved a plan, you can close the project. At this point is often worth carrying out an evaluation of the project to see whether there are any lessons that you can learn. This should include an evaluation of your project planning to see if this could be improved. If you are going to be carrying out many similar projects, it may be worth developing and improving an aid memory. This is a list of headings and points to consider during planning. Using it helps you to ensure that you do not forget lessons learned in the past.Business 901 www.business901.com
    23. 23. The Planning Cycle The planning steps than are simply plugged in through a cycle that provides constant feedback and as one process goes in another goes out. The old adage of garbage in and garbage out can be very true. Initiate Identify Explore Options Best Option FeedbackInitiation leads to identification which leads into the options available. Always look at thepreceding step and reach consensus before proceeding. It will be a struggle at first but soon itwill be second nature to all of the stakeholders. Feedback insures the best option.Business 901 www.business901.com
    24. 24. The Planning Cycle Best Option Planning Evaluation Implementation Feedback Would you like to go into each and every plan with the best option available? Would you like to implement every plan with an agreement between all people and processes and a consensus on the final product.Business 901 www.business901.com
    25. 25. The Planning Cycle Implementation Closure Product Feedback Feedback After closure, you will have a final product or service developed. Than distributing feedback to the stakeholders will insure that steps can be taken during the next planning cycle on what was learned during the process.Business 901 www.business901.com
    26. 26. The Planning Cycle People Product Process Each and every step includes the intersection of people, process and the product. A constant remembrance of this will insure that you are not isolated in your decision making and a clear line of sight will be maintained.Business 901 www.business901.com
    27. 27. The Planning Cycle Plan Now!Ref: Lean Project Management: Eight Principles For Success by Lawrence Leach Business 901 “if it’s worth doing, its worth doing Now” www.business901.com info@business901.com

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