Project planning is the second phase of the project life cycle. Project planning involves:
- Defining objectives
- Explaining the scope
- Scheduling tasks
- Generating progress reports
Project Planning Fundamentals
Project planning refers to defining fundamentals like:
- Determining scope, cost and resources – The process of determining the scope, cost, and resources help in estimating the time required to complete the project, the number of people needed and with what skill set.
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) helps in the above process by dividing the whole task into smaller manageable segments.
- Identification of the problem – A variety of techniques, such as conduct surveys or meetings are used to collect information to assess problems.
There can be multiple problems; then the project team works to select the issue that requires immediate attention.
- Stakeholders’ identification – Identification of stakeholders gives a clearer image of the real problem, that is which function or people might get affected by the project.
Stakeholders work with the project team and contribute to the project’s success.
- Define project objectives – A plan is made keeping in mind the various expectations of the stakeholder.
The success of the project entirely depends on how much of the expectations the project can meet.
Why Project Planning
Reduces cost and time – Project planning ensures monitoring of the budget and schedule at every step.
Increases employee satisfaction – Project planning focuses on engaging the team for greater project performance.
Implements Quality Assurance – Project planning ensures timely testing of the output at every step.
Reduces project risk – Project planning helps in analyzing prioritizing and having an appropriate plan for all the risk.
Tools for project planning
There are different tools that simplify project planning:
- Gantt Charts – Gantt Charts, today are an industry standard that helps in tracking both time and interdependencies between tasks. They are an essential tool to show different phases, jobs, and resources involved in project management.
- Critical Path Method – Critical Path Method (CPM) is a crucial tool for determining the progress of the project to ensure that the project is on schedule. Critical Path Method helps in determining the essential or critical path by finding out the longest stretch of dependent tasks.
- PERT Chart – The Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) helps in analyzing the tasks to complete the project and the time required to complete those tasks. PERT simplifies the planning and scheduling of large and complex projects.
- Work Breakdown Structure – Work breakdown structure (WBS) is a process of organizing the team’s work into manageable sections. WBS is a hierarchical structure of the deliverables needed to complete the project.
- Project documentation – Project documentation is created during the project lifecycle, that involves project scope, its schedule, and the risk analysis. Project documents help in better understanding and better risk analysis of the project.
Basic Project planning steps
- Identify and meet stakeholders – The stakeholders might include the project manager, the customer or the team. The first step is to identify and meet the stakeholders to discuss their expectations and establish the project scope.
- Define scope – Project scope involves determining a list of specific project goals, deliverables, budget and deadlines. Project scope helps in establishing boundaries of the project and responsibilities of each team member.
- Set and prioritize objectives – The objectives are set and prioritized once the expectations of stakeholders become certain. In this step finer detail to the initial ideas is set that serves as a reference point all through the project.
- Determine deliverables – Deliverables are the reason why the projects are created. It is one of the most important steps of the project planning to determine what these deliverables will be and how they will be delivered in time.
- Create project schedule – Project Schedule outlines when different tasks of a project are supposed to begin and end. Project Schedule helps in measuring the project progress and setting up progress reports.
- Risk analysis – Identifying the risks and considering steps to deal with it is an important step of project planning. Steps to prevent risks from happening or limiting their impact should be considered.
- Set progress reporting guidelines – There must be a communication plan to update the stakeholders regarding the project progress. This can be done monthly, weekly, and daily so that all the involved members can monitor the progress.