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Planning the Work; Working the Plan

So now that my clients had a Statement of Work, a Project Charter, and a contract, I was ready to move on. Well, almost. Next, we needed plenty of planning. To ensure success, to have minimal downtime, and to answer the functional business requirements of the project, we needed a solid plan. Actually, we needed several plans in this project; not just one. All projects need a set of plans before starting work. We needed several support plans to ensure success.

Scheduling Plan: Based on the Work Breakdown Structure and the Project Network Diagram, the schedule could be created to ensure that all the work that needed to be completed was done on time and in the correct sequence.

Risk Response Plan: Within this project, there were several potential areas for risk. We had to identify each of the potential threats, assign Risk Owners, and then mitigate the risks if they were to come to fruition. How? There are two methods: Qualitative Analysis and Quantitative Analysis.

What's the difference? Glad you asked. Qualitative Analysis lists the risks in a matrix, as shown in Figure 2. Each risk is assigned a level of severity multiplied by a level of probability of actually occurring. The risks are ranked according to their score. Based on the ranking, you focus your mitigation efforts on the higher risks.

Figure 2Figure 2 A risk matrix can help you plan your mitigation efforts.

Quantitative Analysis focuses on the identified risks through interviews, subject matter experts, and discussion with the project team. This method of risk analysis is harder to complete, can be more subjective depending on whom you are interviewing, and requires ample time to get a true reflection of the risks in the project. Don't discount this method of risk analysis for fluff. Admins and Project Managers must get out of their offices, get into production, and interview the stakeholders of the project.

Communications Plan. This plan details the information that needs to be disseminated as the project progresses—and specifies to whom the info is distributed to. Does this seem like overkill to you? Not really. Although this project was only going to take a couple of months to complete and the company was fairly small, a Communications Plan was needed.

A Communications Plan is a roadmap of what the client expects in the form of reports on the project. In this case, the Project Sponsor wanted weekly summaries of the work completed, open tasks for the upcoming week, and details about any new discoveries that could impact the completion of the project. Our Sponsor wanted this in hard copy, not email. In addition, our Sponsor wanted a biweekly Executive Summary that he could use in his staff meetings to report on our progress. No problem.

Our Communication Plan also included the phone numbers and email addresses of the project team, stakeholders, and building management company. Building management company? Yes, the building owners wanted to get involved when we mounted wall plates for the network connections.

Operations Plan. This plan is needed for the project team. My clients didn't need to see this plan, but we shared it with them anyway. This plan detailed the work my team was about to put into action. We detailed computer nomenclature, IP addressing schemes, and task ownership. This was a playbook to project success.

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