Mike Dalton has a nice series of articles on project management in Industry Week (and copied to LinkedIn Pulse). Are Your Plans Realistic & Robust? entry is on planning and using the CCPM approach to construct a plan.
The answer to creating robust plans lies in a different approach called Critical Chain Project Management—a fundamentally different approach to projects that has allowed thousands of companies to reach as high as 95% on-time performance. CCPM takes the padding out of individual tasks and uses part of it to create a shared project buffer. The result is 25% shorter project durations, but with plans that avoid procrastination and actually protect due dates. Plans are built for rapid execution where, like a relay race, key tasks start as early as possible, people work with limited interruptions and multitasking, and the “next runner” is always ready for the handoff.
Reading through the article, there are just as many "basic planning" aspects as there are the CCPM-specific elements. It's interesting, thought, that often the "basic" or "obvious" things don't happen. How many project plans are built by the project coordinator alone on their computer, instead of in a room with the stakeholders - the people who know the key connections within the project, the people who can remove barriers to going fast. From the planning perspective, this is just as important as the CCPM understanding about where task padding comes from and how to better use it.