The One Plan Every Project Needs (But Few Have)


Mobilisation Plan
This Plan Needs Many Disciplines

Plans, plans, plans. Every project has them coming out their ears. But there is one that sets the success. Miss this one, or get it wrong, and the project is gone before it’s started. Gone, baby, gone.

As you all know. Critical Path Analysis is my mantra. Sit and meditate on it. CPA – CPA – CPA – CPA. Over and over until it’s in your DNA. Replace your DNA with CPA.

On projects it isn’t ‘the one thing’ it’s ‘the everything’. The one true guide.

But there is another plan. A plan that is at best given lip service in that euphoric start phase of a project.

If you’re the client you’re relieved that the Main Contract is awarded. For Main Contractors’ your euphoric that you’ve won the contract.

For both parties’ this is a false dawn.

The heavy lift hasn’t started and the learning curve is steep. Ignore this stage at your peril.

In the bid there will have been a sub-note that the Main Contractor has to provide a project plan within 30/60/90 days. Whatever.

The bid had a vague-ish, idea-ish kinda plan for the project. It needs fleshed out and updated and rejuvenated in the time period allotted.

The planners bend to their task. It should be the engineers but on most projects they’re too important for details like planning and leave it to ‘the planners’. A fatal flaw but one for a different blog.

The first plan needed is the one referred to in the blog title. The One Plan.

It needs a great attention and effort to produce, by people who are true experts. This One Plan will set the course – either up to the high road. Or down the toilet.

The choice is yours. It’s called The Mobilisation Plan.

Yes, I know the Main Contractor put one in the bid but that was when they were trying to win the contract. And the knowledge you had at that time of the site/ scope/ issues was equal to the square of a very small number.

And nobody was going to tell the client how long it will actually take to get the project moving. The client will have their own idea. Of no use. But their own idea.

Getting Out of the Blocks Fast – Always a Good Idea

The Mobilisation Plan isn’t a project plan in the true sense of the word. It’s not about work on site, buying equipment, building things. It’s about putting the elements in place to do the project. You’re going to need people who are experts in mobilisation, sourcing, recruitment, visas, camps, transport, etc, etc. Lots of different capabilities.

Here’s an example.

You have to get a worker on site in Iraq. It’s part of the Mobilisation Plan.

If you go through the proper channels and everything goes well? It will take 152 days.

I’ll repeat that in long hand. One-Hundred-and-Fifty-Two-Days.

Of course, if you go around the back door, talk to a few people in the know, use the contacts you have in-country – it takes 5 months. Or 152 days. Whatever way you want to count it.

Getting a qualified welder on site in Saudi Arabia? Maybe 120 days.

And that’s after you have the infrastructure in place to get him mobilised, visa’d up, badged.  (Has to be a ‘him’ by the way – you’re not in Norway)

So there you sit. The Project Manager on your shiny new project. With a handover from the Business Development people that consists of a wave across the bar and a few thumbs up. If you’re lucky.

Mobilisation Plan
The Mobilisation Plan  – Lot’s of Experts Needed

The Mobilisation Plan. A million things demand your attention. Where do you start?

Take the biggest sheet of paper you can find. At the extreme right-hand side draw a small upside down triangle. Above it write ‘Start Work on Site’ and add the Client’s preferred Start Date. That start date has more fantasy attached to it than the Fifty Shades of Grey, but whatever – nobody else has a better date.

At the extreme left-hand side of the paper draw another triangle and above it write ‘Today’. All you have to do now is draw lines that connect the two.

It’s the hardest plan you will ever construct. And only you can do it. You are the only person that has all the parts of the puzzle or the means to find them.

Top Tip.

  1. Write it backwards from ‘Start on Site’ until you run of steam. What’s the final thing you have to do before you start on site? That’s your second last thing to do.
  2. Then write it forwards from ‘Today’.
  3. Then connect the middle bits.

By the way. When you get it finished and show it to your client? Hard rain is gonna fall.




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