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Pitfalls in Project Logistics Planning

Developing a project logistics plan can be a daunting task. Putting together a well-crafted document that includes all necessary tasks, milestones, assignments and details can take significant effort and, in many cases, presents the planner with obstacles preventing smooth plan development. In order to mitigate the difficulties of project planning, project managers can incorporate certain basic strategies to optimize their efforts.

Here are some of the common pitfalls and solutions to facilitate the quick and successful development of projects logistics plans:

1)   Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Plans do not need to be fully developed before they are put into action. The reality is that the project logistics plan as a living document will be adjusted with the ebb and flow of the project. Use Pareto’s 80/20 rule to get the ball rolling. Then let your team and stakeholders guide the document as needed.

2)   No need to start from scratch.

Reinventing the wheel will not necessarily make for a better plan. In fact, too much time is often wasted on building a plan that undergoes a number of changes down the line. Leveraging existing project templates which are available in our tools (ProjectSmart) and best practices is an excellent way to reduce the initial effort in project planning.

3)   Avoid analysis paralysis.

An over-detailed plan, in many cases, results in an ineffective execution on granular activities and causes problems in the tracking progress. Finding that right balance of detail in the plan allows team members to have a better understanding in their execution while delivering the necessary project data for stakeholder decisions.

4)   Don’t build the plan alone.

One of the most critical steps in successful project planning is including stakeholder buy-in and involvement in the development process of our vendors (Transport companies, shipping lines, airlines etc. companies). The plan needs to be the road-map of the entire project and all parties are responsible for its success. Working in a vacuum and building a plan based on assumptions is dangerous. The plan will always be imperfect and evolving. For this reason alone, stakeholder involvement is needed to help guide and approve the project plan despite the final results.

5)    Although pitfalls are unavoidable in the planning development process, the project logistics manager’s role does not change. The project logistics manager must develop a plan that will reflect the best version of the truth of the evolving project. This being the case, planners must recognize that they should not be left alone to their own devices and must involve as many relevant parties as possible to build a plan that will have the best chance to succeed.