What is a plan anyway?
A definition by Cambridge English Dictionary
— a set of decisions about how to do something in the future
— A strategic approach towards improving the circulation and implementation of ideas
Whichever definition you prefer, a plan can easily be interpreted as a set of processes that breakdown larger concepts in to smaller ones, allowing for better decisions and approaches as you progress through a project
Should I even?
Planning can seem all a bit redundant, in this day and age when we have many a tool that can alleviate the preparation process so that as developers we can just jump straight in and start coding… right? Why would anyone want to put the time aside to write down what to do instead of just going ahead and doing it?
Despite the general tendencies to plan effectively when foreseeing a project, many companies and professionals have spent too little time or none at all in the planning stage. As you’ve probably suspected, consequences follow.
An example of bad planning can easily be seen with the testing and implementation of 5G in the recent months. Tech companies such as Huawei raved about the benefits and reliability of the service so much that they announced their potential success long before they were able to prove the viability of their service to world.
So when BBC Reporter Sarah Walton tested the capabilities of 5G connectivity in the first live broadcast to use 5G. This was the result.
While tech company BT mentioned their EE counterpart was able to operate their connections on 800 megabits a second, BBC was only able to use 40 megabits during the broadcast and they had to cut the footage with an apology that they were unable to use the connection reliably at the time.
Pros and Cons
There are both good sides and bad sides of planning. While a good plan will give valuable oversight to create ideal approaches, there is also such a thing as over-planning, which can have it’s repercussions
- By breaking down ideas in to smaller chunks, it becomes more obvious to see where the parts fit, what the overall concepts of the project are and why certain decisions need to be made in order to encourage the success of ideas as the progress is made
- The breakdown process reveals exactly what needs to be done. Of course along the course of the development process, many new ideas and extra considerations would be added to the project as well as many previous ideas being changed or removed entirely. Seeing what needs to be done, where and when it’s best to approach that task and why that task is essential to be completed in such a manner reveals more insight to developers and other contributors
- I didn’t need to use such a fancy word to describe this but what i’m talking about here is that planning a project out makes it easier on the mind and easier on the eyes when approaching the project. Each day you spend within the circulation of ideas can put a heavy toll on you so always having a clear path ahead can literally make or break your momentum.
- Project-based careers such as development always have time constraints, which seem to get shorter and shorter each time you start a new project. Already having a deadline to adhere to and a manager who most likely has little to no understanding of the importance of a strong project plan makes your life difficult before you’ve even started using some of that valuable time to not work but instead to write down ideas and processes.
- Projects are always liable to change and this could happen anywhere in the workflow. Be it beginning, middle or end. Having created a plan for your ideas to be approached a certain way only to be told by another contributor that based on user expectations, a certain idea needs to be completely rewritten can seriously shake things up, especially if you are working by the book and sticking to plans.
- Despite mentioning that a good plan can be psychologically cleansing, it can also have an adverse effect on the mind. Bearing witness to the overall scope of the project can make it obvious that there’s a lot more work to do towards implementing intentions and ideas than originally expected. This can easily break your drive before the project has even started
Stay tuned for Pt.2
The next section will cover my personal approaches to project planning in a development environment as well as some other tried and tested approaches that others have found success with.
Hopefully i’ve given you some insight so far in to the importance of good plan, not just for projects but on a general basis too.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned.