Step 4 Planning the Change

“If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?” – Basil S Walsh

  • In Step 1 you recognised the need for, and defined a specification for change.
  • In Step 2 you base-lined you current capability and identified your prioritised change requirements to take forward.
  • In Step 3 you shared your change requirements with key staff and stakeholders to gain a common and accepted view of the change.

You should now have sufficient information to start planning your change. A good plan, well carried out is essential. It will help you to keep control of delivery and manage the day to day issues and risks that will inevitably occur during your project.

Create a work breakdown structure (WBS) to define the total scope of your change project based on your prioritised change requirements. The top level WBS defines the “what“ of the project. The underlying schedule defines the “when”, “who“and “how” of the project.

  • Use nouns and adjectives to describe each top level WBS component.
  • Use verbs to break these down into a schedule of manageable tasks, activities and dependences.
  • Estimate resource needs, timescales, costs and consider potential risks to delivery.

This level of detail can be organised into work packages and monitored to control delivery.


Here are some ideas:

  • Build on lessons learned from previous projects.
  • Use a formal project management methodology such as PRINCE2.
  • Remember your plan should include finance, human resources, communications, quality, risk management, project structure, project management, long-term maintenance and sustainability. It is more than just the schedule.
  • Ensure roles and responsibilities are clearly defined for all your staff involved with the project.
  • Involve those who will be doing the work in estimating resource needs and timescales.
  • Use Gantt charts to provide clarity for complex interrelated deliverables.
  • Use critical path analysis for minimising delivery time.
  • Set acceptable tolerances for the project manager to meet. Base-line the plan and get senior level approval before moving forward.
  • Carefully plan and manage Requests For Change or additional requirements to avoid requirement creep and unexpected extensions to costs and time scales
  • Ensure you make real progress. Use stages and milestones to drive delivery.
  • Ensure stakeholders are kept informed of progress.
  • Use the in-depth understanding gained from your planning to back-up your management of stakeholders’ expectations.
  • Watch out for the 90% complete syndrome. Things may not be as complete as you are informed.
  • Use the plan to drive the project but don’t become a slave to it.