Plans vs project planning
Based on my experience with customers, it is clear, that creating a good, reliable project plan is very important for nearly all of them. Why should you focus on the project planning process?
The general perception is, that having a good plan will allow avoiding problems along the way. Of course, these problems should be taken into consideration when creating a plan and dealt with, right?
No. Not fully, at least.
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
You may have heard this quote. You may have a plan, but when something unexpected happens, something you could not predict, your precious plan might as well be thrown out of the window. Or, in a more realistic scenario, will have to be adapted.
Does that mean, that project plans are not as important as most people think?
“Plans are useless but planning is indispensable”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Again, no. Dwight D. Eisenhower understood, that plans will not last, but having a plan that covers the most predictable elements, and gives you a general direction, is very important. The process of planning itself also gives a lot of added value – asking yourself what is most important, what can be skipped, etc. helps to prepare for future changes.
The problem that arises is that doing constant planning, and replanning due to changing circumstances is very arduous and time-consuming. Because of that people often lose motivation for projects with many changes (“Why do the planning if it will change soon anyway?”), and start cutting corners.
It was a problem that wasn’t been adequately addressed up till now. I treated it as something that everyone just has to live with and accept if they want to work in the Project Management field.
But now a solution to this problem is available. The tool is called Planless.
What Planless is all about
Planless aims at automating most of the project planning process. It plans the delivery time of tasks and assigns them to persons best suited to deliver them in the specified time, making sure resources are not overallocated, but used effectively. In short, Planless does the bulk of the most time-consuming planning tasks and does it automatically!
Before describing how Planless does that, let’s point out two things:
- Planless is not providing any features that would be Agile, in standard understanding, like Sprints. So if your team heavily relies on that, it might require some additional setup. We will cover that in future articles, or you can drop us a message now to talk about it. That being said, it is hard to say that Planless does not support the Agile approach, as plans created in Planless are agile – they adapt to all changes and limitations introduced to the plan.
- Planless might not eliminate manual work entirely in the creation of the project plans. In some cases, after Planless creates your plan, it may require some finishing touches that will be done manually. In that case, the volume of work, which you will have to do, will be orders of magnitude smaller than in normal, non-automated, planning.
Planless automated project planning step-by-step
To create the project plan, Planless requires a list of tasks to be planned, so the manual definition of those and a breakdown of the work to be delivered is still required. These tasks have to have the following information provided:
- Skill required for task delivery – the list of available skills can be defined in the tool. Skills are also assigned to users. More on that in the next article.
- Estimate – the range of time that task is estimated to take
- Dependencies on the other tasks
Planless provides several options to speed up task creation. It allows us to create multiple tasks based on a text list, import CSV files and create tasks based on that, and integrate with, or import data from other applications, like Jira, Trello, Asana, etc. (the list of supported apps is getting longer and longer).
After tasks are defined – Planless does its thing by assigning users with the right skills, considering the level of skill and user availability.
Then Planless automatically creates a timeline based on task priority, dependencies, and other constraints that can be set on the task (like: do not start before, or due date), and mentioned the availability of users with the required skill. Tasks that are at risk of not being delivered on time, are marked (red on the timeline and with a red exclamation mark next to the name of the task) and listed in a separate section to provide additional visibility.
When all this is done (and by “this” I mean initial task creation with all required information, as the plan is created automatically with no effort) users will see tasks assigned to them, with information on when they should work on them.
While working on tasks users can collaborate on the task level, by adding comments and attachments, logging time worked, and closing tasks when done (in general, all the things a normal ticketing system is supposed to do).
What is really great is the speed at which Planless adapts to new information. Each change of any kind instantly affects the plan. Just to name a few examples::
- a priority change,
- new tasks requiring a certain skill that has to be done by a certain date,
- a new user with a certain skill,
- or really anything else connected to resources, availability, time, skills, and priority.
That is why earlier I mentioned, that it is hard not to call it “Agile” 🙂
Below you can see, how the change in priority affects the plan when two tasks are planned on the timeline.
Pretty cool, right?
Described features are just a small snapshot of what Planless offers, and how it addresses some of the problems that normally occur while creating or updating a project plan. I will expand on how skills are used and how Planless approaches resource management in the next article.
I hope it got you interested in the tool, and it might address some of the headaches that you are facing during your planning process.
Schedule a free demo with us if you can’t wait to see it in action. We will show you the capabilities of the tool and answer any questions you may have.
We are an accredited partner of Planless, and as such, we can also:
- offer better pricing for Planless licenses,
- assist you in the implementation process,
- train your users so that you can get the most out of this amazing tool.