Every day people and businesses come up with excuses as to why their projects failed. While reasons such as not having enough time or resources are definitely valid, the real cause for many failed tasks is that there was not proper planning. It is usually a complete lack of planning rather than simply poor planning that causes failures. The best way to avoid improper planning is to practice the steps to successful planning and to do it consistently. The ability to plan projects is essential in today’s business environment, and is a lot easier to master than you may imagine.
Use the following final steps from Dale Carnegie to ensure that your projects are on the right track:
Step 5: Love Don’t Cost a Thing But Business Plans Do
Not having the resources to take care of the costs of a project is one aspect that without proper planning, can not only hinder a project, but completely stop it dead in its tracks. Determining the budget for, and cost of, each action step is critical to the success of all projects. Costs that you should take into consideration include:
- Time (a cost that is sometimes easily forgotten)
- Opportunity cost (what must be given up to pursue a given action)
Step 6: You Can’t Meet Deadlines Without Setting Them First
Set and communicate deadlines so there is a clear understanding of which tasks need to be completed by what dates. Include immediate, intermediate, and long-term targets in this timeline. Be sure the goals and timeline are realistic and revisit the other steps before setting your deadlines. Work backwards to determine when each phase should be completed. Discuss with the team each step and put the schedule in writing to avoid misunderstandings.
Step 7: Implementation
An important, yet overlooked, part of implementing a plan is making sure that all involved understand their role in achieving the established goals. Obtain the team’s commitment to agreed-upon results. As you monitor the implementation, you may need to modify the scope of the plan and reevaluate your goals and timeline.
Step 8: The Follow-Up
A critical part of creating a strategic planning process is to keep accurate records, analyze why deviations have occurred, and take action to correct any challenges. By having detailed accounts of exactly what happened, you will essentially have solutions recorded for many problems you may face again.
As Winston Churchill once said, “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” Do not let the road ahead of you become filled with premature roadblocks that can cloud your mind with worry and anxiety. By properly planning out the perfect path to take to avoid these potential obstacles the road ahead will be a lot easier to navigate.