Imagine two project teams, Team A and Team B. They take on exactly the same work. Team A does a poor and hasty job of planning, and the project manager commits to complete the work in 12 months, at a cost of US$1 million. Team B does a more careful job of planning, and the project manager commits to complete exactly the same work in 14 months, at a cost of US$1.2 million.
Teams A and B deliver precisely the same result, at the same cost, in the same amount of time. Total project duration: 13 months. Total project cost: US$1.1 million.
But consider how they're evaluated:
"Project Team A Exceeds Budget by $100,000, Delivered Late. Project Manager is Fired."
"Project Team B Delivered Early and Under Budget. Celebration in Honor of Project Manager."
The essential difference between a well-managed project and a poorly managed one is, in my estimation, entirely in the planning. Planning is about the creation of expectations. In this case, expectations were created and then either fulfilled or not, with all other factors being equal.
What do you think: Does successful project planning create a successful project management career?