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D + 1: How to Have an Effective Project Planning Process

By: Mark Frasco
D + 1: How to Have an Effective Project Planning Process

When my family and I arrived in Ohio, we settled into a two-bedroom, quad-plex condo. Our unit was on one end. Our neighbors were an elderly couple, Roger and Nora Zunk. They had four grown daughters. As I later learned over a beer on the back porch one night, Roger was in the U.S. Army during World War II.

D-Day: June 6, 1944

This week, the 72nd anniversary of D-Day (Normandy landings) has me thinking about our men, their mission, their plans and the valor in which they completed their jobs. On Tuesday, June 6, 1944, representing the U.S., United Kingdom and Canada, over 156,000 strong launched coordinated efforts to begin the liberation of northwestern Europe from Nazi Germany control.

Planning for the invasion began in 1943. Not only did they plan the Normandy landings, but they also planned and conducted important deceptions, causing the Nazis to be unsure of the Allied forces’ moves, locations and dates. To be sure, they had to consider how to get the men and materials to the theatre at the right time in the right order, but also every variable of weather, the winds, tides, and temperatures had to be considered and risks evaluated.

Desert Storm

One of the most important career influences in my life was the COO of a design/build firm I worked for in the 1990s. He was a retired officer in the U.S. Army. Before he retired, his last major assignment was to coordinate the assets for Desert Storm, the United States’ first insurgence into Iraq.

He and his team were responsible for getting the right people in the right places with the right equipment, on time… exactly. He ran our operations much like I imagined he ran his team in the Army. Every move had meaning, and there was little tolerance for deviation.

How to Have an Effective Project Planning Process

All of us have responsibilities for planning resources. Remember that the definition of efficiency is to produce desirable outcomes, while utilizing the least amount of resources to do so.

My guess is that our planning processes are not too different than that of the generals we hold in high regard. As you might expect, I feel that running successful projects has more to do with process than it does technique.

The Project Management Institute’s “Project Management Book of Knowledge” offers the following global standards and practices to have an effective project planning process:

  1. Project Integration Management – processes required to ensure that the various elements of the project are properly coordinated.
  2. Project Scope Management – processes required to ensure that the project includes all the work required, and only the work required to complete the project successfully.
  3. Project Time Management – processes required to ensure timely completion of the project.
  4. Project Cost Management – processes required to ensure that the project is completed within the approved budget.
  5. Project Quality Management – processes required to ensure that the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken.
  6. Project Human Resource Management – processes required to make the most effective use of the people involved with the project.
  7. Project Communications Management – processes required to ensure timely and appropriate generation, collection, dissemination, storage, and ultimate disposition of project information.
  8. Project Risk Management – processes concerned with identifying, analyzing, and responding to project risk.

Roger passed away on June 15, 2002. In all the years I knew him, he didn’t waste many words and mostly just listened. But, in my eulogy to him, I told a story he’d shared with me on that porch years before. How, as a young man, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was assigned to the 44th Infantry Division, Battery C, 157th Field Artillery Battalion.

He was trained in artillery and was a sharpshooter. During the spring of 1944, at the age of 21, he was shipped to the other side of the globe – his first trip away from home. He and his troop found themselves clearing a path for the infantry on a beach in Europe. They were in charge of the big guns. That beach was Normandy, France. The day was D+1.

Roger Zunk was awarded three Bronze Stars.

*Note: This article was originally published in June 2016 and has been updated and revised for relevance.  

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