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Planning Mistakes to Avoid

As a Project Officer, or member of an organisation, you may have been part of a planning process that wasn’t executed as well as it could have. It may have been obvious what the issues were, but sometimes they are not easily identified and can lead to problems right through to project delivery.

 Here are some common planning practices that cause issues for delivery:
–  Making assumptions about WHY people are involved.
–  Writing a plan for the group, and not with them.
–  Setting best ‘guess’ targets, with low confidence that they can be achieved.
–  Writing projects to meet funding criteria, without overall direction.
–  Undervaluing reporting due to a lack of prior monitoring and evaluation planning.

Any of these sound familiar? If they do, you might be interest to understand the five main underlying causes to planning and project delivery problems.

1. Lack of Clarity. A lack of clear direction and objectives at the strategic or organisational level can lead to disengagement and projects that don’t contribute to overall goals. Gaining clarity involves sharing and understanding why people are involved, why the issues are important, and coming to a collective agreement to take action.  

2. Lack of Knowledge. A robust understanding of the issues and their causes is needed in order to make decisions about how to best address them. Gathering as much knowledge and perspective as possible before setting goals will ensure decisions are well informed, realistic and have a high level of confidence for delivering the intended outcomes.

3. Lack of Capability. Capability is having the knowledge, skills and behaviours to effect change. Management responses that don’t consider the full capability needed, will fall short of their intended outcomes. Influencing change often means addressing the underlying attitudes and values before new practices can be adopted.

4. Lack of Capacity. Plans and projects that do not fully consider the capacity required to deliver, and resource accordingly, will undercut goals and cause unnecessary stress.

5. Lack of Validation. Unintended results can occur in a project when assumptions are made that certain actions will deliver a desired outcome, but are not tested along the way. Monitoring and evaluation are often overlooked until the end of a project, but it offers a lot of value if considered at the start, including what information would validate and demonstrate success.

There are four key Plans for NRM that help overcome the traps and pitfalls in planning and project delivery to achieve the group’s desired outcomes. These are Strategic Plans, Management Plans, Action Plans and Monitoring and Evaluation Plans. These will be explored further in the next articles.

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