Don't Just Plan Your Work. Work Your Plan.

Posted by Romeo Elias on Sun, May 07, 2006 @ 03:14 PM

For most people, the concept of project management is defined as creating a Gantt chart or an Excel sheet to define a plan, gain consensus and determine some key tasks and dates that are important to track. The process typically conjures up images of creating this document while going through several iterations. Then, when the project begins, managers attempt to ensure that the plan is followed by holding regular meetings on the status of the key dates and tasks. This process we define primarily as planning a work effort.

This effort alone is not sufficient. To really ensure a successful implementation and timely outcome of a project, a manager must also work the plan. Working the plan boils down to execution: ensuring every task is assigned to the appropriate person at the right time and gets completed when due. Traditionally, this has been a very challenging step due to the lack of tools to track and assign work automatically.

Tools like Interneer Intellect enable working the plan. Once a project is planned and the tasks, due dates, dependencies, owners and process are defined, each user is then automatically notified at the appropriate time when their activity is due. The user gets an email or notice in their homepage about the particular task assigned to them and the relevant information needed to complete the task. When they complete the task, they simply update it with the deliverables, if any, and click a button to move the process forward to the next person. At that point, another user gets notified and so on until the project is completed.

At any point during this process, a manager can easily gain visibility and review the project status, the critical dates and any slippage. In addition, if a task is past due, reminder notifications are sent out not just to the task owner but also to their supervisor. This ensures full accountability and minimal slippage of the project timeline.

Working a plan is a critical piece of any project management effort and is often overlooked or poorly executed. Today, with tools like Interneer Intellect to facilitate this critical function, every project can be successfully implemented.