Why Proper Planning is Important to Projects

Nov 23, 2021 | Uncategorized

“When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

A familiar chiasmus we’ve all heard when someone catches us cutting corners. This bit of wisdom gets reflexively doled out in response to hearing “we’ll see what happens”.

Planning a project of any size can be daunting. In the earliest stages – particularly for novel projects – planning goes from the small to big picture. It can be overwhelming because it feels like the longer the conversation continues, the further we’re getting from the end goal.

“We want to install a second donut-holer on this line – that’s the project. But… in order to access the holing area, we’ll need to remove this post and bring in a lift, which will need to come in through the overhead door. Actually, the door will be too small for the machine to come in, so it’ll have to come off temporarily. And the trailers will have to be moved so we can set it down somewhere…”

It starts to feel like it’s spiraling out of control right from the get-go. Small needs can become a major undertaking.

The problem comes in when none of this has been properly anticipated beforehand, and ad hoc solutions have to be implemented in a hurry on the day. It’s one thing to map out a process in a series of project meetings, and quite another to be doing so on site with the clock ticking and uncontrolled hazards left and right. It seems like an obvious shortcoming, but this kind of plate-spinning happens on projects all the time! The intention is to think ahead, but practically they devolve to “just get it done”, and all forethought goes out the window.

How does an organization avoid the chaos on their projects? Planning is everything! The right people have to be in place to properly strategize how a project will be done. There are tried-and-true approaches that can help shed light on the unknowns before any work starts. Typically, execution requires the creation of a functional Project Management Plan. Project plans define:

  • quality, safety and environmental risks,
  • project team,
  • stakeholders,
  • deliverables,
  • schedule,
  • scope,
  • completion criteria, and
  • project milestones.

The scale of the project will determine the level of detail needed – large projects are often reams of paperwork – but even a small-scale project should ensure all of these considerations are addressed. Anything overlooked is an exposure to loss – a risk you inadvertently accept by being unprepared.

Risk exists in several categories, but the key consideration is, of course, worker safety. Materials and equipment can be replaced and costs covered, but putting workers at risk – particularly through negligent management practices – is unacceptable. A project plan should include (either itself or in a pursuant document) a project safety plan that addresses the hazards related to the project.

Being able to anticipate and control hazards related to a job requires an accurate picture of what the project will entail.

  • What materials will be used?
  • What equipment is needed?
  • What other activities are going on at the same time?
  • Are all workers competent?
  • Is supervision adequate?
  • What is the order of operations, and will everything be in place in time?
  • What needs to be in place to safeguard workers from critical hazards?

None of these are trivial considerations. Each requires thoughtful and deliberate action to assess, document and communicate. Smart planning involves knowing what you’re going to look for before even setting foot on site – knowing what you need to know.

Experience is critical to knowing the questions to ask, and what to expect. That’s why successful project planning draws from the knowledge of many individuals, with a seat at the table for every discipline required to execute the project. Electricians speak to the electrical requirements, millwrights to the mechanical, engineers to the structural, and all must collaborate on figuring out how these disparate parts need to interact.

MEC Millwrighting and Rigging is positioned to offer interdisciplinary teams to consider every need of an industrial project. Big or small, our network has the depth of experience to plan and execute your project on-time and on-budget with a focus on quality and safety.