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Focus on Efficiency Phase 1: Plan to become More Efficient, Efficiently

A previous post laid out the Focus on Efficiency Framework: Plan-Decide-Implement-Review-Repeat. In this post I’ll spend some time talking about Planning.

In the Plan phase you'll plan to become more efficient by working toward an established goal or taking advantage of some new opportunity, to ensure your limited resources are used to the best possible advantage to accomplish your mission. Depending on your organization, this may seem like common sense or a complete waste of time.

Perhaps your organization already Plans using traditional project management techniques. But traditional project planning doesn’t typically go far enough in ensuring that your organization will come out more efficient when the project is implemented. Normally, project success is measured in terms of scope, time, and cost; and scope is defined in terms of a particular set of features and functions. These items are important, of course, but more importantly: Did the organization achieve benefit from the project and are the benefits received related to the mission of the organization? That’s not to say that traditional project management techniques have no value. On the contrary, project management is invaluable in efficiently and effectively implementing projects. Project management just needs to be supplemented by additional techniques to ensure that efficiency is the focus of projects and that goal is not lost in the whirling dervish of project implementation.

Perhaps your organizational momentum places a low value on planning and suggests it’s better to use your intuition or professional judgment. But intuition and professional judgment will only take you so far without a framework for focusing those skills to overcome the influences of likes and dislikes, prejudices and stereotypes that keep you from considering certain paths or alternatives. It’s important that you plan even if you don’t like to plan. In planning you’ll build a realistic business case, consensus for change, and a holistic guide for project implementation.

Good project planning will:

• Provide a framework for evaluating alternatives in an objective way.
• Allow you to identify the required enabling and business changes that will lead to successful project implementation.
• Ensure your efforts are aligned with the benefits you are trying to achieve, and those benefits support your mission.
• Build consensus for the required investments and changes required for successful project implementation.
• Identify risks and dis-benefits associated with a project, and identify actions for minimizing risk and dis-benefits.

Good project planning makes it clear that benefits that support your mission are the desired outcome, and those benefits are the measure of project success.

Planning is an iterative process where you’ll come up with not a plan, but your best plan.

If all this doesn’t sound like doing more with less, it’s not. It’s about investing some of your limited resources in good project planning to give your best projects the best chance for success.

As you might suspect, planning is more involved and will be covered in more detail in future posts.

For more about efficiency visit focusonefficiency.com.

About

Focusing on Efficiency is based on Benefits Management research, processes, tools and techniques developed and presented by John Ward, et al. at Cranfield University School of Management (many of which can be found in the book Benefits Management: Delivering Value from IS & IT Investments by John L. Ward & Elizabeth Daniel); Lean Six Sigma; Project Management Techniques; a great many other readings; and my own thoughts and experiences.

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