It’s unfortunate that some planning professionals don’t realize that they aren’t running according to plan until the project is over. It’s not until hindsight that they can clearly see the impact on both their staff and finances. Because not all software is created equal, I’ve outlined some signs that can help you mitigate the risk in working with subpar software.

10. Stakeholders don’t understand the plan

When stakeholders don’t understand the plan it is impossible to get buy in. When stakeholders don’t buy in, they check out.

9. The sequence of work is not obvious

Some plans are developed in tabular form or in a graphical format that is not time scaled. If the work sequence is not clear team members will not understand critical hand off points within the plan.

8. Team members or stakeholders use different tools to make sense of the plan

What a waste of time and energy!! The planning document is insufficient in conveying the plan so teams develop their own tools to understand the plan… Talk about lost in translation!

7. People executing the work don’t follow the plan

This is common. The plan is a contractual or administrative document, but the project team does what they need to do to finish the project without regard to the project planning document.

6. You’re not sure about what resources will be needed to execute the plan

A well-developed sequence of events is of limited usefulness if the resources to support the sequence of work are not available.

5. It takes a specialist to explain the plan to stakeholders

The planning document should be understandable on its face. If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. Albert Einstein.

4. There is more work going into maintaining the plan then in executing the project work

Some projects plan to such a degree of detail that the overhead related to maintaining the plan is greater than the effort to complete the project. This is obviously nonsensical.

3. Stakeholders don’t agree on the plan

Stakeholders must have a common understanding and all be working the same plan. A plan which is not well communicated creates discontinuity within the team and makes the project execution less efficient.

2. There is no way to judge the quality of the plan

In order to measure the quality of a plan one would need standards in place to know what characteristics a good plan has and be able to measure those characteristics against the plan being proposed.

1. Team members see the plan as a checkbox not a tool for project execution

All of the above contributes to a diminished regard for the plan which then leads team members to treat the plan as a item to be checked off a list rather than a strategic imperative for the project.