How much time you spend planning a project should be (if you use Roberto Toledo’s method) related to the amount of uncertainty you have with the project itself. Have you done similar projects in the past? Are you using known technology and firm assumptions? In that case, give yourself 10 percent of the expected duration of the project to plan. If this isn’t the case however (and there are less certainties and untested tech), give yourself closer to 20 percent.
But is it even possible to really devote that kind of time to planning? Chances are, the answer is no—but that doesn’t mean you should completely forgo the idea. Enter the project planning and acceleration workshop (PPAW), which aims at creating a concentrated meeting where planning which may take weeks instead takes only days. The trick is in the seven steps that Toledo shares:
1. Plan the plan
2. Set the stage
3. Define the agenda
4. Use collaborative working techniques
5. Document everything
6. Assign tasks for completion
7. Kick off the project
Plan for the Plan
Toledo explains each of these steps concisely—consider for instance the advice and write up that goes along with the first of the seven, “plan the plan”:
Share with team members all of the project's background information. Send invitations with enough lead time and clearly state the session's sole objective, which is to produce
a solid project plan. I often kick off the session stating that once we are finished, we will have a project plan that is roughly 75 to 85 percent complete — and that we are going to accomplish this in a very short period of time. Therefore, total commitment is required from all participants.
Read the full blog post here to learn more about the other six steps: http://blogs.pmi.org/blog/voices_on_project_management/2014/04/7-steps-to-project-planning-ac.html