Stay Strong: It Gets Worse
Even if most know that detailed project plans can’t be accurate and therefore hold little value, people are still expected to come up with them when they apply for budgets or resources. The reason is simple. Only projects with a high value get funded and are allocated resources. It is the portfolio manager’s job to ensure that funds and resources are available for the chosen projects. So he needs to know which resources are needed, when.
This basically leads to project plans that are inaccurate for three reasons:
- They simply can’t be accurate (see above).
- Project managers know that they can’t be accurate and do a sloppy job with them. The further they are in the future, the worse this can be.
- Portfolio managers know the plans are inaccurate and request changes that sometimes make even less sense.
So what then? Invest more time and money in better project planning? Well, I’m not saying that should never happen. I just maintain that the benefits to be gained will never equal the effort a company would have to invest in personnel, time, quality assurance and tools. It is precisely the attempt to reach that final 20% of planning quality that causes costs to soar.
Oh, and on a side note, a word about the “Super Algorithm”. In many companies, I’ve run across that special person that wants to find the solution to everything. They try to collect all possible data and then want to press that magic button. You know, the one that starts the algorithm that puts important projects first, makes excellent use of the bottleneck resources, and uses remaining capacities for the other not-so-important projects. Does that sound realistic? No, it doesn’t – and you know why: even the smartest algorithm in the world can only work with the input it receives. Having already read my comments about the value of project plans in general, you know what I’m getting at: garbage in…garbage out.