It All Starts With Planning, Part 2

Norb Slowikowski

March 2007

Last month we talked about the importance of planning. This article will focus on the essentials of planning. Let us now delve deeper into the specifics about planning and coordinating the job. We know the "Why?” and the "Who?” of team planning—let’s move on to the "What?” What follows is a detailed outline on the purpose and execution of planning.

I. PURPOSE AND CONTENT
To discuss and practice job planning and coordinating so that these principles can be effectively applied to on-the-job situations.

II. INTRODUCTION
A. What is planning?
1. Work we do to predetermine a course of action.
2. Systematic approach to a job—it is logical.
3. Enables you to determine what should be done, along with the why, when, where, how and who.

B. Why plan? What are the advantages?
1. Prevents us from following our tendency to act before we think.
2. Simplifies task and eliminates unnecessary work.
3. Makes coordinated effort possible.
4. Avoids costly mistakes.
5. Allows most effective and efficient use of time, manpower, materials and equipment. (Time is money!)
6. Prevails all the time in your day-to-day thinking.
7. Enables you to determine if you did what should have been done.

III. ESSENTIALS OF PLANNING
A. What is to be done?
1. Describe the job. Be specific.
2. Sequence the action steps. Prioritize by order of importance.
3. Be sure everyone understands their role. (Make certain everyone is working toward a common goal. Avoid misunderstandings.)

B. Why did we prioritize the action steps the way we did?
1. Give a specific reason. Provide justification for each step; this makes us take a hard look at need and protects against doing unnecessary work.

C. When is it to be done?
1. When do we start? When do we expect to finish?
2. Establishes priorities (relative to other tasks).
3. Allows us to determine number of people used, amount of work to be done, etc.
4. Helps schedule materials, tools and equipment.
5. Anticipate delays and changing priorities.

D. Where is it to be done?
1. Be specific about the location.
2. Anticipate special conditions or safety hazards.
3. Locate materials and equipment properly.

E. How is to be done?
1. Break down the job into a step-by-step procedure.
2. Determine requirements for men, material, tools and equipment.
3. Review work and safety practices.
4. Are other departments involved? What approvals are needed?
5. How will you coordinate with the other trades?

F. Who is to do it?
1. Determine number of people needed for the job.
2. Involve them in all planning sessions.

G. Follow-up
1. Why is this necessary? We need to find out if work is progressing according to plan. Remember that no plan is perfect. Follow-up helps us adjust to emergencies, unexpected circumstances or changes in the schedule.
2. Who will do the follow-up?

About the Author
Norb Slowikowski is president of Slowikowski & Associates, Inc., Darien, Ill.