The 3 Cs for a Proper Plan

Introducing the 3Cs

The “5 Ps” are well known in the world of project management and are typically explained as Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance (less polite 6th Ps are often thrown in for good measure 😊).

This begs the question, “What is Proper Planning?” and we’d like to introduce you our complementary “3 Cs”.

Opinions on how to tell whether a schedule or project plan (we’ll refer to it as a “schedule” for simplicity) is fit for purpose are as many and varied as planners themselves and that’s always been part of the problem.

Carelessness in preparing and managing schedules may be heavily punished in the commercial disputes that inevitably follows time and cost overruns, but we firmly believe that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and a schedule should be continuously checked against three holistic criteria:

  • Content
  • Construction
  • Clarity


Does the schedule represent a meaningful, realistic view of project execution?

If the schedule isn’t correct or it is obviously unachievable then it is not realistic. If it doesn’t cover the entire scope then it is not ­meaningful. This is known as the 100% Rule. The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) has to include 100% of the work defined by the project scope and capture all deliverables.

It is necessary to identify what the entire scope is and determine how and when it will be delivered. Generalist planners need to pick the brains of their project team colleagues. Specialist planners may know their sector so well that they can effortlessly clone suitable work packages, but the best of them will still engage with their colleagues too.

 Garbage in, garbage out!


A good planner must be able to navigate their planning tool of choice and, but what they really need to know is how to produce a well-constructed schedule that functions properly.

Poor technique can make a schedule ineffective, harder to understand, harder to maintain and ultimately less credible to third parties. A badly constructed schedule cannot be relied upon for good or bad news.

Latest schedule checking software is fast and effective so there is no excuse for a badly constructed schedule. Well almost no excuse, quality comes at a price, as our annual Acumen Fuse renewal remind us. However, if you struggle to justify software you’ll only use occasionally, then why not ask Project Pilots to do checks for you? W#e’ve invested heavily in licenses so that you don’t have to and we really do know about schedule quality (

If a good quality schedule is no guarantee of a successful project, consider the contrary!


So vital, yet so easily overlooked. Whatever else a schedule may be, however skillfully it has been constructed, if it can’t communicate, then it fails.

No planner is indispensable and a schedule needs to be clear enough that any reasonably competent planner can understand it; better still it if it is comprehensible to non-planners too.

Schedule narratives provides clarity and are often a mandatory contractual deliverable in their own right. The schedule itself should be self-explanatory with meaningful naming conventions and liberal use of annotations.

Know what you want to say, know who you’re talking to!


We’ve barely touched on what makes a good schedule, but perhaps begun to show that a holistic approach based on our 3 Cs is a promising start. 

We’ll return to this theme and develop it further in future articles, so please bookmark our site or contact us directly at if you can’t wait.

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