Plan for success

March 2019

Shaping and delivering projects can be frustrating, challenging, and exhilarating in equal measure. Planning is an essential part of projects and of running effective field operations. In this blog we'll give you some quick tips on planning and why to do it.

Why plan?

In large part, it’s because a project means an organisation is doing something new, or doing something old in a new and better way, or with new people, or trying to reach agreement on the best way forward in changing circumstances, one that everyone can buy into. It’s both stimulating and challenging to work out the best way forward (for a certain definition of “best”).

Different roles manage this changing landscape in different ways. Sales oriented people think of a funnel of opportunities, qualified leads, and assessments of what’s real and what’s fanciful.

Project managers tend to speak about the cone of uncertainty, and manage this through RAID registers (Risks, Assumptions, Issues, and Dependencies). Others simply refer to the fog of war. But whatever you call it, you need a way to manage things when you may not know everything (or indeed, very much) about a possible future.

We deal with this through various forms of planning, and, emergency responses aside, I want to pick up two ideas that appear, at face value, to be contradictory. To Plan, or not to Plan.

Lack of planning leads to failure

It’s critical that we plan what we are trying to do. We need to know, as best we can, what should happen, and when. Who should do it. Why it needs to be done, and what depends on it. Are there risks to getting things done? Have we made assumptions in the plan? All this will produce a plan, but it’s the thought process that matters – considering what could go wrong, what alternatives may exist and so on. To quote Eisenhower, “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” The need for planning, and the outcome of that process, is fundamental.

Reliance on the plan leads to failure

So, we’ve thought about things, and we have a plan. Unfortunately, as John Lennon pointed out, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. Stuff happens, in other words – reality intrudes, and the risks thought about are realised, the assumptions you made turn out to be incorrect. This is why the plan is useful, but not the key. The key is the planning processes, and all the thinking about the ifs and buts.

The benefits of planning

As ever in life, the result is in the middle. We need a plan – it tells us what we’re trying to achieve, and how, but we must accept it’s going to change as it meets reality. So:

Establish a baseline: Does your plan make it clear what you’re trying to achieve, when, and how?

Manage the unhappy path: Do you understand where and how your plan might break?

Develop contingency: Do you know what you’re going to do (or might do) if it does break?

Scan reality: Step back from the plan and see what’s going on. Talk to people. Can you pre-empt reality?

Manage expectations: Do your stakeholders appreciate that reality wins every time (no matter how much they may wish otherwise)? Are they helping with the planning process?

Change objectives: Has reality changed so much that the original objective is untenable?

Things rarely go precisely to plan. But good management recognises that planning is a process, not a deliverable, and plans accordingly. Remember, it’s the thought that counts.

Towards better planning

If you're looking for better planning in your field operation we've got you covered.

With uBook from Leadent Digital you can enable your customers to book and reschedule their appointments via your website, based on the available capacity sourced from your field service management solution. 

It uses an intuitive design for easy appointment booking and rescheduling. uBook is fully responsive for all mobile devices and laptops. It is user-friendly with a wide range of configurable options to display information of your choice.

uBook's core function is to provide easy self-service appointment scheduling as a quick and easy way to deliver excellent customer service. uBook takes demand data direct from your customer and is fully integrated with your systems for a seamless experience.

uBook gives your customers the power to organise their own schedule and is fully integrated with your field scheduling solution to manage to your requirements.

Why not get in touch to find out how it can help you plan even better!
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