“If you don’t have these 4 things you don’t have a plan: 1) Estimating Parameters, 2) WBS, 3) Activity Duration, Work and Cost, and 4) Network Diagram.” – Ray Coker

Generic planning phase for Microsoft Project 

Generic planning phase for Microsoft Project 

These four techniques also make up the main feature set for Microsoft Project. In fact, they are the process, or way to build a plan in Microsoft Project.

If you want a real plan, you don’t get to skip over a particular technique. Skip over one piece of the model and what you have is nothing more than an incomplete estimate.

Most people, I know this because I have worked with several hundred organizations and thousand of MSP users, leave out the cost part of this model and just a small percentage of Microsoft Project users, maybe 20%, do an adequate job of resource definition, assignment and management.

Most project managers just want a schedule. That is fine, nothing wrong with wanting a schedule, but don’t think you have a project plan, a complete estimate.

A project plan is a project estimate. A good technical estimate allows you to then evaluate risk, which is really what estimating is all about. That is the end game. “Ok, now that we have a project plan, let’s take a look at risk.” You want that because risk is what is going to kill you if you can’t figure out how to managed it well.

If you know, then then just go do it and don’t fool around with any of this stuff.

Really, if you know what to do, what are you waiting for?

But, if there is uncertainty, you a need project plan and that plan will give you the information you need to mitigate risk. A project plan is also something worth communicating about. A schedule – eh? Ok, I guess it is worth something, but just don’t call it a plan.