Project Planning Traps [video blog]

by Jennifer Bridges, PMP (formerly, Jennifer Whitt)

If your team is in analysis paralysis and you’re having problems getting your project going, here are “Nine Best Practices to Avoid the Subtle Traps in Planning.”

Number one. You need to plan your plan. First of all, so now you’ve finished initiation, you have your project charter, and it’s great to take the steps to actually plan out your planning. So, you actually think through all of the things that need to be planned for and accounted for on your project so that you don’t find things along the way as you’re executing and controlling your plan. Plan them in the beginning so you can actually insert them into your plan.

Number two. Make sure you have inputs that you need in order to get the project done. After initiating, you have to have certain deliverables that are produced, that actually become inputs into the planning phase. So, you need to ensure that you have those. Some companies call those gates. They have different gate reports or gates, to ensure that they have the proper input.

Number three. Create and communicate your project plan and your schedule. Just to make sure everyone knows who’s to do what, when, and where.

Number four. Implement process. It’s really up to the project manager to ensure that you are implementing a process for your project. So project management is one part, but process management is another. A process to have a standardized, documented, communicated way of implementing plans of the project plan is very effective and efficient for running your project.

Number five. Create and update your templates. Have you ever been in the middle of a project, and you notice some people, some of the resources in there left the company seven years ago. Or maybe you were referencing an organization that was done away with years ago. Well, now is the perfect time to actually update your templates to make sure the updated information is in the template and that you’re not cutting and pasting old information.

Number six. Set up your repository. So, you can set up a repository on your server, online, so people can begin putting documents, referencing documents, collaborating on documents. Now is the perfect time to mobilize your documents, your files, and make sure everything is ready for use.

Number seven. Get sign offs. It’s very important at every phase along the way to get certain sign offs. Therefore, in the middle of a project people aren’t asking you why you’re doing certain things. You can show them who signed off and when.

Number eight. Ensure everyone on the team is doing who, what, when, and where. I’m sure you’ve probably been approached by people asking you for things and you weren’t even aware that you were on their project plan or in their schedule. Well, the same courtesy applies for the members on your team and the stake holders. So everyone knows the tasks, the deliverables that they’re responsible for.

Number nine. Last but not least, is really knowing who you need on the project when. In the planning phase, it’s important to know what type of thinkers that you need. You need people who are going to think through the details, actually get your plan to a detail level. You also need people who are going to help you find the pit-falls. What things where you might find risk? Where might we fail? Where do we need to get plan B’s in place? And also people who are very good at being inventive, creative ideas. Maybe if this is the first time you’ve ever created a project like this or implemented a project like this, you need those thinkers who can find different ways to get things done.

Those are the nine Best Practices that I wanted to share with you to avoid subtle traps in planning.

If you found these tips from Jennifer Whitt, PMP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at


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