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As I briefly reflect on the past and present, I am and have been involved in many projects both personally and professionally. Personally, the raising of my 3 children, marriage, academics, a cross-country move, building a home, lawn care, and even paying the bills are all projects that quickly come to mind. Professionally, I am currently involved with establishing, for the second time in my career, an emergency department (ED) fast-track. Recently, I have also personally developed a surge plan for our emergency department in response to the current pandemic. This was actually a huge project, way too much for me, but it got done with some help. Not only did this surge plan involve a documented process, but also required the building of a large temperature-controlled tent, outdoor sanitation, establishing generator power, and a temporary morgue, just to name a few.
When I think about all these projects and any other, I feel planning is the most important aspect of project management in a successful project. I say this because nearly every step of project management requires planning and re-planning (Allen, McLees, Richardson, & Waterford, 2015). Even paying my monthly bills requires planning, otherwise bills would be late or my checking account unnecessarily depleted. With that being said, it is literally insane to believe that any large-scale project could be successful without adequate planning.
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Let us assume I wake up tomorrow morning and instead of going to work, I decide to build another house beside my current home. I call my buddy, have him bring over his backhoe, and we start excavating. On day one, I cut my cable line, rip through my current power supply, and I get fined for not pulling a permit. I’ve now got holes in my yard, no cable, no power, lost a day of pay, and thousands in damage. Say I had my utilities flagged out and the proper permits to proceed, I still have not secured finances and have no plan established for contractors to begin work. Living in Florida, where every contractor is backed up for months, beyond my own efforts this project comes to a screeching halt.
I would have to say that one of the most important parts of project planning is to determine whether a project is even worth the investment. Without proper planning to consider all costs and resources associated with a project, a proper risk assessment cannot be performed. Common factors that impact and underestimate risk are unpredicted cost, scheduling delay, performance, and unforeseen external factors (Doval, 2019). Proper planning allows for a better assessment of the entire scope of work and potentially unforeseen risk otherwise not seen without proper planning.