In our industry the best marketing tool we have is our reputation with our existing and previous client base. Word of mouth in a small marketplace like ours is critical for continued success. How this reputation is formed can be brought back to the basic question, are our projects successful?

Sounds simple enough, yet there are so many factors that can contribute to why projects sometimes fail – unclear scope, insufficient budget and resources, lack of client trust – just to name a few. Each one of these factors can fall under the umbrella of insufficient front end planning. In fact, insufficient front end planning is one of the main reasons why projects fail.

Every project no matter how big or small has five components: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring/controlling and closing. We have all fallen victim to over-excitement on a new project, wanting to jump right into the execution. After all, we are all in this business for the love of the execution part of our projects. However, despite where the excitement might lie, we cannot forget that the initiation and planning phases should account for approximately 40% of the total project.

I was sent this sound clip a few months ago and was immediately brought back to my project management studies. The clip links the art of juggling with project management and how too often people learning how to juggle focus on the catching of the balls and fail to realize that it is most important to focus on properly throwing them. When we focus on properly throwing the ball, the catching will take care of itself. The same can be said in project management. When we put the time into getting the initiation and planning processes of projects done correctly and thoroughly, the rest of the project will in theory take care of itself.

Let other people focus on catching and, as project managers, let us focus on the art of throwing.




by eleanor

I like this. I think the same can be said for throwing a party.


by neil

Undoubtedly your long gangling arms come in handy when juggling Corey.


by al

Thanks for this Corey. It’s such an elegantly simple analogy that rings true for a lot of life’s undertakings.


by Emily

This is where the project manager needs to be a great facilitator to boot! This is a good reminder Corey. You’re going to need to pull out your skills at bringing people to the beginning, and through the components so as to build on one another.


by Geof Harries

The statement about every project having five components: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring/controlling and closing isn’t necessarily true. Quite often, projects in the digital channel never really close. They keep evolving and iterating based on usage patterns and community response. So, in that way, a digital project must be managed differently; utilizing a cyclical, iterative approach - plan, deploy, monitor, refine - over and over again.


by Zeke Aasman

@Geof - good point. Though in some cases, you could argue that the start of a new iteration could mark the closing of the previous, and thus each iteration could be considered a project in itself.

@Corey - I think another benefit to giving the planning phase such importance is the added time that the mind is given to stew over ideas. I know for myself, my best ideas often come at night just before I fall asleep, or while smoking a cigar and casting a fly line. I don’t think this really fits the juggling analogy though: “envision yourself throwing the ball, then come back the next day and throw the ball” hmm…


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