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 Deciding.
In many cases the Decision to Implement is made in the blink of an eye, even before Planning. And after investing resources in the Planning phase there’s often tremendous momentum to proceed to the Implement phase. However, a good planning phase will build a business case for project implementation, or will provide evidence that the project should not be implemented, and either of these outcomes is important.
Because resources are limited, and because every project costs, and because there are opportunity costs (the value of the thing not done because resources are being utilized elsewhere) associated with every project: implementing your plans, even your best plans, should not be a foregone conclusion. Good planning will help you identify those projects that are destined to fail, and deciding to avoid those projects is a valuable outcome!
In the previous planning phase you’re building a roadmap to success and in the Decide phase you’re asking, “Can we get there from here?”
Successful Planning will allow you to identify the required enabling and business changes that will lead to successful project implementation. You’re asking “How can we do this?” And as you proceed in Planning and brainstorming alternatives, you’ll sometimes reach dead-ends where the risks are too high, where enabling changes are too expensive, and that leads you to narrow down the list of what’s possible. In the Planning phase you’re building the logic for the Implement phase, and if the logic is not present, if your roadmap is filled with nothing but dead-ends, if the final answer to “Can we get there from here?” is “No.” then the project should be avoided and resources should be reallocated.
Building the Decision phase into your project will help ensure that you’re getting your best plans out of your Planning and help you break the momentum of projects that are destined to fail.
For more about efficiency visit focusonefficiency.com.
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.