How to prepare an effective daily project execution plan?
Importance of planning:
A project manager needs to plan all activities required to achieve project deliverable, latest project planning software’s are a handy tool and can accommodate a never-ending list of activities. At times a Project Manager is required to have better skills in handling information generated by these software rather than demonstrate his core project management skills. These project management tools if used to generate just the required data in order to plan activities for the next day or two can make project execution more effective. A short duration plan with limited amount of data can make life simpler for any Project Manager. This article intends to guide in preparing a daily plan that can help a project manager in taking control of activities and channelize his efforts in meeting the milestones or project deliverable.
What is a Daily Plan?
A daily plan is a consolidated list of activities and should be prepared at least a day in advance effective for the next day. It should include activities that are planned for the day, and are part of the base line project plan; it should include the list of activities that are a result of changes in project scope or backlogs. At this stage, the activities should be further broken down into smallest measurable and quantifiable task to have a better degree of control on the activity. Breaking the task to smallest set of activity will also help in better allocation of resources. Always start with the next most important milestone and work towards its accomplishment.
What Should Daily Plan Include?
The daily plan should include the following set of activities
List of activities currently in progress
List of activities scheduled for commencement as per the updated project schedule
List of activities scheduled for completion as per the updated project schedule
Person responsible to achieve the target
List of activities that require coordination with other agencies/stakeholders
A measurable, quantifiable target against each activity
The status of the activity whether achieved or not
Reasons for not able to achieve the planned target for the day
Review the plan:
The daily plan should be prepared a day in advance and reviewed before implementing it. The review process should include the project team members, contractors, supervisors who would be actually implementing the task. It is a good practice to consider the material availability schedule, resource calendar in order to stream line the plan. If an activity requires a linked coordinating activity and if it has not been carried out, it is advisable to include the coordinating task and not the actual task. For e.g. if a weld setup has to be inspected by a third party quality inspector and he has not been informed, it is likely that he may not turn up and carry out the activity as per the plan. Such coordination tasks are generally not captured during the activity list development process and daily planning is a good platform to incorporate such activities.
Implement the plan:
The Project Manager should make use of the data filtering capabilities of project management software or add a custom filter to automate the process. All team members should be informed about the plan by conducting a meeting; individual copies should be handed over or sent by email. Project Managers ability to use database or spreadsheet can create wonders. Daily planning also increases the involvement of the people and makes them feel responsible for the project.
The project manager should brief his team early in the morning and reiterate the salient aspect of the plan. Project Manager should dedicate time to personally monitor the activities and instruct the team members to intimate him if any scheduled task is not being implemented as per plan. It is a god practice for any Project Manager to check the implementation of the plan at regular intervals. If the no of daily activities is large it can be delegated to the next most influential person in the team
At the end of the day the project manager should review the plan with his team members. During the review process the actual state of the activities should be recorded and reasons for not being able to complete the task should be ascertained and recorded in the daily planning register/database. Any incomplete task, should be incorporated in the next day’s plan or scheduled for a later date after analyzing the reason for non-completion.
Challenges during the implementation phase:
This methodology is a test of leadership skills of any Project Manager. It is likely that project team members may be the first one to oppose such a move. I did face a serious opposition while implementing the daily planning technique in a recently concluded project. The opposition could be on various grounds and it is Project Manager’s responsibility to prove the efficacy of the system. I had to personally demonstrate this methodology and proved it with data that if the daily plan is not implemented on a regular basis backlog of activities increases and activity completion rates drops drastically. In addition, there were other agencies, which spelt out the success of this method in very clear terms.
The practice of generating the daily plan can throw up some interesting data on various tasks, resources and even the individuals responsible for the targets. It can give reasons for not meeting the targets and they could be anything like delay in receipt of material, receipt of wrong material, lack of coordination, poor / lack of understanding of the design drawings or product specifications. It can also generate interesting data on rework and the database can be helpful in conducting re work analysis. Project Manager can use this data to better track his project. The methodology provides a greater visibility of information to the project team by giving details of what needs to be done the very next day and gives a better degree over all control of the project
Analysis of the data:
The next most important step is analysis of the data generated by this process. Analysis of the data helps to streamline the efforts of a Project Manager. He gets inputs to channelize his resources in areas that are lagging behind. Some simple quantitative tools like Pareto analysis can help in understanding the reasons for delay. Simple graphs like planned activities Vs completed activities can display visual results of the extent of activities that are lagging behind and that needs to be expedited in order to achieve completion targets. Analysis can also set a benchmark on of number of activities that needs to be completed each day. A deeper drill down of data can reveal the exact reasons so as to why the daily targets cannot be achieved. and their frequency of occurrence. The Project Manager can then develop a strategy to minimize the number of ‘No’ against each activity in the daily plan
Planning efforts can never go waste, if a detailed plan targeting activities that have to start, finish, and are in progress is prepared and adhered to keeping the over all schedule in mind can generate wonderful results for the project, professional satisfaction for the team members and guaranteed ROI for the stakeholders