Sometimes we face real challenges within a new project. Challenges that include making a schedule with a multitude of parties involved. Different stakeholders that add value to the project and that are interconnected with other parties within the project. This is accentuated even more when we are talking about megaprojects. Projects that can easily exceed a budget of 1 billion €. However, the location of the project can make that a over 100 million € project is considered as a megaproject. In this post, we are going to tell you about our experience when planning a megaproject. We will focus on the preparation phase of the schedule through what is called the Collaborative Planning Meeting. Are you ready?
What is a Collaborative Planning Meeting?
Broadly speaking, a Collaborative Planning Meeting is a formal process to develop a project schedule of tasks to be carried out until the completion of a project where inputs from all the parties involved are needed during any of the project phases. The idea is that all project teams have the opportunity to give their own inputs, introduce them into the new plan and consider both internal and external interfaces between disciplines.
The process that takes place during a Collaborative Planning Meeting serves both if we consider the project as a single element and if we consider one of the work packages within it. Sometimes, this process is also called simply Collaborative Planning.
When must we hold a Collaborative Planning Meeting?
The Collaborative Planning Meetings can be carried out at the very beginning of a project to define a first baseline of the project. However, this type of integrative project planning is also carried out in a cyclical manner. In this way, we can talk about annual or semi-annual Collaborative Planning Meetings, depending on the nature of the project. In the same way, the nature of the project will mark the duration of these meetings, being advisable a minimum of 1 day and a maximum of 3 days.
Who leads the Collaborative Planning?
When it comes to marking the roles in this type of sessions, it is important to highlight that the project planner takes a secondary role. These are moments in which the rest of the team must take ownership of the project, after a preliminary study of the scope of the project. These meetings are led by the Project Manager, together with the engineering, procurement, logistics and execution teams. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of this type of Collaborative Planning, the outputs that arise from it will be used to assess and check the total scope of the project and to better define the objectives to be achieved. The results of these meetings will help us to monitor and monitor the scope, duration, and cost of the project.
List of achieved goals with a Collaborative Planning Meeting
Some of the results we obtain after conducting a Collaborative Planning Meeting are:
- A large picture showing the new project execution plan
- Relations between the different project participants
- List of identified problems, actions to take, and estimated time to resolve them
- List of assumptions on which the new schedule is based
- Logical sequence between groups of activities
- Milestones and gates agreed for the project
- Main characteristics of the activities
Depending on the type of session and the type of project, we could also obtain resource profiles derived from the table containing the new plan.
Once the Collaborative Planning Meeting concludes, the planner will arrange to pass all the information obtained to a planning tool and project controls. In our case, as you know, the tool we use is Primavera P6 due to its great potential and versatility. Once the new activity schedule has been created, it will be distributed among all participants in the Collaborative Planning session. Ideally, this process of data dump to Primavera P6 and distribution does not last more than 1 week.
Before starting the Collaborative Planning Session
For the Collaborative Planning Meeting to be a success, we must have a well-structured plan in advance. A well-defined planning strategy that covers the work to be done prior to the planning session. This preliminary process can last around 2 months and includes:
- Sending an invitation to the Launch Meeting to the work team
- Development of a presentation of the strategy to be followed
- Registration of all the most relevant Stakeholders
- Kick off meeting of each work team
- Collection of the scope of the project by the planner
- Internal meeting led by the one planned with your work team
- Finalization of a first draft of the program of activities, prior to the Collaborative Planning Meeting
- Development and sending of the agenda for the Planning Session
- Preparation of the necessary package during the meeting: markers, post-it, rules, magnets, calendars in A0 format, etc.
The idea is to arrive at the Collaborative Planning Session with the clear ideas of the work that must be undertaken in the project.
IN PROJECT 2080 WE WOULD LIKE YOU TO REMEMBER
The Collaborative Planning Meeting is one of the tools that add more value to the project planning and control function within a project. It puts all the parties involved and interconnected in one project in front of each other. After this type of meetings, something very important is achieved for the good development of the project: that each party feels responsible for their plot within the project and knows what their relationship with the rest of the stakeholders will be.
If we had to define how many sessions need to be carried out throughout the life of the project, this would depend on the type, nature, and duration of the project. However, a session at the beginning of each project is necessary, and at least one other session per year. This type of activities, within Project Management, creates a committed and solid team to face a project. In addition, the Collaborative Planning Meetings will serve to identify possible risks and propose mitigation actions, agreed by all stakeholders.