Project Management: Fix the “Fail to Plan” syndrome

You’ve probably heard the popular saying: No one plans to fail, but often we fail to plan!

Did you know that the most common method of software development today (according to author Steve McConnell) is “Code & Fix”?  Code and Fix is the method whereby requirements are overlooked in favor of a simple cycle of rushing to deliver code, fixing it, and coding more (and fixing it)… Coincidentally, this was  how I first learned to program software in Engineering school and it is amazing to me that this many years later (I won’t say how many), organizations still fail to plan. As a result, we face 40% or more rework on every project.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) and the International Project Management Association (IPMA) along with two other international PM groups (one in Australia and one in the UK) set out a couple of decades ago to change all this through efforts to create a Project Management Profession.

Besides marketing, promotion, and a global corps of volunteers, each group developed their own project management certification scheme complete with a body of knowledge (BOK) to govern the designation.  Now in its 4th Version, the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK(R)) from the Project Management Institute outlines nine Knowledge Areas spread across five process groups that are critical to proper planning and delivery of projects irrespective of the industry.   The IPMA (whose US chapter is called the ASAPM – American Society for the Advancement of Project Management) has four levels of project manager certification and is supported by a robust body of knowledge called the ICB Version 3 (IPMA Competence Baseline).

In simplest terms, I consider the breakdown of project management process in the body of knowledge to represent:

1.Explore an idea (initiate and build a project charter),

–>Project approval

2. Plan, Plan, Plan, (build the project management plan)

–> Project plan approval

3. Do what you planned to do (execute the plan)

–> Delivery approval

4. Track deviances/variations of actuals against the plan (Monitor & control) and create change requests

–> Approve change requests and update plan

5. Close the project formally (Close)

–> Final sign off and approval.

In other words – plan the project, do the project, check the project, and act on changes needed – which is a lot like the PDCA quality cycle of Joseph Juran.  No one plans to fail on a project, but somehow we still fail to plan.  But today we can embrace Project Management as a profession and a proven set of processes to guide our projects.

Einstein said that Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  When you introduce project management into an organization – you are doing something different, and the proven different results are a value added benefit.

What are you doing on your projects?  I am quite certain that you don’t plan to fail, but if you still fail to plan, perhaps it is time to consider professional project management on your projects.

To your successful projects!


Carol Dekkers

Carol Dekkers teaches project management workshops (PMBOK Version 4) and PMP (project management professional) exam preparation course.  For more information send her an email ( or  visit
=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======


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