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8 Steps to Plan a Perfect Project

September 15, 20224 min read

There are 8 steps to the Pre-planning phase, they are as follows:


  1. BHAG

  2. Planning

  3. Site Conditions

  4. Products

  5. Budget

  6. Teams

  7. Schedule

  8. Pre-con


The pre-planning phase is vital to the success of any project and is the only time to save money.  I want to be crystal clear on that point.  Without proper completion of this phase every decision along the way will cost you money!  With that point, let’s cover the 8 steps of this important phase.


First step is to put your thoughts out of your head and onto paper, a step I call your BHAG.   I love getting the question; What is a BHAG?  Your BHAG is your Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  Simply put, the BHAG is your why.  If you don’t have a reason or a dream, what are we doing this for?  Your BHAG is your why.


Second step is planning, sounds easy enough right?  Not so fast, during this time you really need to chunk down your BHAG into several categories.  There will be lots of questions to answer and oftentimes, utilizing specialty professionals to get you going in the right direction.  Do you need a designer? Do you need permits? What will my HOA (insert massive groan here) require? This is just to name a few...


Third step covers your work site (your where’s).  You must consider so many things when looking at your site.  I like to look at all projects to identify and locate “my nightmare”.  This could be parking or storage or any limitations to site availability.  All of this needs to be identified and communicated to your team.  


Fourth step covers your products (your what’s).  This can be general to start with.  An example would be a kitchen faucet or a tree to be planted.  By the time you are putting together your final steps to this phase you will need to be very specific in your product selection.  


Fifth step is your budget.  I like to begin with a preliminary budget and finalize my budget by the end of this phase.  The first part of this step is preliminary as you are working with subs and closing in on your final products/specifications.  As you fill in the blanks of the product specifics, your final budget will tighten up.


Sixth step is your team (your who’s).  You have selected subcontractors and vendors that will provide and perform parts of your project.  Your team came from vendor research or referrals.  You will likely have met them several times and have developed confidence in their ability to perform for you in a manner in which you expect. 


Seventh step is your schedule (your when).  At this time your schedule is preliminary.  You will certainly have a good idea of when things will happen and how long they will take.  I recommend building in some time contingencies for delays and overlap in work schedules.  Your final schedule gets inked during the last step. 


The Eighth and final step in this phase is your pre-con, or pre-construction, meeting.  This is the single most important meeting of any project.  This is where every detail and expectation is clearly laid out.  Your schedule will be firmed up based on the information extracted from this meeting and this gets your project team all on the same page.  Holding this meeting and covering every detail will inspire confidence in your team that you are in control and will also convey that you have a grasp of your role in the project.  From this meeting you will be able to set a project kickoff date and walk into your project with a plan that you can now successfully manage.  

I have seen more projects with huge delays and cost overruns simply because the steps in this phase were not followed.  Completing the pre-planning phase with attention to detail will give you and your team confidence and control.  More importantly it will save you time, money and will help you deliver like a pro.

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