Tyler Cairns | Business Process Review, Process Planning, Scoping… Whatever you choose to call it, it’s a service that’s often overlooked, or at the very least severely scaled back, when it comes to most projects. At DTM, we refer to it as as ADEPT – Assessment, Discovery, Evaluation, Planning and Transition. I like to call it Pre-Project Planning and over my time in IT, I’ve come to see it as a critical step for successfully launching a project.
For a myriad reasons, pre-project planning is often undervalued in the buying process. Whether this is due to limited budgets, flawed past experiences, or tenuous relationships with sales, it’s a common view that it’s an avoidable step. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that an investment in pre-project planning often leads to a lower total spend as well as higher success rates with projects.
As a consumer, I understand the temptation to forgo services like pre-project planning. However as a business professional, why any organization would risk increasing the chance of their project running long, over budget, or not delivering intended results, completely escapes me.
Part of the issue lies in the lack of understanding around what a solution provider or consultant can deliver when it comes to pre-project planning, what their process is, and how it will specifically impact the project. The right vendor is able to manage your expectations, define deliverables, and outline how these will increase your chances of success. A professional with the relevant experience has inordinate details readily available on the entire process.
Pre-project planning includes a number of fairly standard steps and should be seen as separate from the actual planning of a project that is underway. The objective should be to reach a definitive understanding of the assets in service during the project. At the end of the process, you should know who and what will be impacted, the level of resistance to these changes, the desired requirements and end results, and much more. Pre-project planning should include the creation of associated documents, which are then treated as drafts for approval. The outcome of pre-project planning? A limited set of options that has been evaluated, planned for, and confirmed by both parties, and that can serve as a guide or reference point for the project team once the formal project begins.
All-in-all, I have come to appreciate that there is greater value in pre-project planning than most of the hardware or software that is ultimately being deployed for that project. When done properly, it helps mitigate risk, provides an inventory of requirements for delivering a successful project, and compares steps along the project pathway from the state of “as is” to the “to be” end point. No project is ever hiccup-free, and pre-project planning will not capture all potential “gotcha” moments that can arise, but far too many times organizations fail to receive the desired end vision because one of the parties involved undervalued the pre-project planning process.
My personal experience has led me to appreciate a common business quote, “if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.”