Date. 6th October 2022
The project planning process starts before work on the actual project begins and continues throughout the life cycle of the project. Its main goal is to adequately plan the time, cost and resources needed for the project and thus to minimize risk. The main output of the project planning process is the project plan or project management plan, which includes the project schedule as well as various supporting plans.
It is a principle that also explain the basic concepts of project management. That is applied and suggest steps, binding, although it is applicable to most scenarios.
Here is the main element in project management planning
Identify project stakeholders
Start your project planning process by identifying the stakeholders of your project. Project stakeholders are individuals, groups, or organizations who may affect or be affected by a project. They include.
The project sponsors
The project leaders
Customers and clients
Users of the project output
Groups impacted by the project
The task of stakeholder management starts with the identification of all stakeholders but doesn’t end until the project itself is completed. Throughout the life cycle of the project, stakeholders need to be managed, that is, updated about project progress and their feedback taken into consideration. Good communication is key, and it is the job of the project manager to maintain a productive dialog with everybody involved in and affected by the project, not only the core project members.
On the other hand, some projects may be so large and complex that you aren’t able to give all stakeholders an equal amount of attention. In this case, it’s important to identify the key stakeholders. Those who can make or break the success of your project. Key stakeholders can include the project sponsor, the individual with overall accountability for the project and senior management. Prioritizing the needs and objectives of key stakeholders will help increase the chances of your project’s success.
A project’s goals and objectives depend on the needs of the project stakeholders. Therefore, knowing who your stakeholders are and what their needs are is the first step in determining your project’s goals. A good way to determine stakeholders’ needs are stakeholder interviews, which you should conduct at the very beginning of the project planning process.
You can take notes during these interviews and save them directly in a project stakeholder mind map, similar to the one pictured above.
Once you have a clear overview of your key stakeholders’ needs, you can turn them into a set of measurable goals, following the SMART method
Deliverables are the tangible products that are produced or provided as a result of the project. We can generally distinguish between two types of deliverables.
Project deliverables, such as the project plan, minutes, or reports.
Product deliverables, such as intellectual material, consumer goods, contracts, and so on.
Deliverables have the following attributes
They can be intended for both internal and external stakeholders: Minutes, for instance, may be intended for the core project team, while official reports may be created to keep the client or other external stakeholders informed.
They usually have a due date. Due dates are an important part in project planning this is true for goals, objectives, deliverables, and individual tasks.
They may represent stages of a project: Phases or stages of a project may be represented by major deliverables. In case of a new mobile app, for instance, deliverables or phases could include. App concept. Mockup. Design, and Functioning prototype.
They may represent individual tasks within a project. Individual tasks can produce deliverables, but oftentimes multiple dependent tasks have to be completed in order to create a deliverable.
In traditional project management, the project schedule lists all activities and deliverables with their intended start and end dates, and thus provides a timeline for the entire project.
To work out the schedule for your project, you will need to.
Define activities based on your objectives and deliverables
Break activities down into tasks
Estimate the time each task will take
Locate task dependencies and accommodate them in the schedule
Assign team resources to the tasks
Once you know exactly what needs to be done, who will do it, and how long everything takes, you can work out the entire project schedule. While simple in theory, this is probably one of the most difficult areas within the whole project planning process.
If you can’t rely on experiences gathered from previous projects, accurately estimating how long tasks will take is the first difficulty. And even if you work out the perfect schedule on a task level, this plan is of little worth unless you’ve also created a viable resource schedule.
Human resources especially are difficult to manage, as their needs and availabilities often can’t be predicted with a 100% accuracy. Project members may get sick, go on vacation, or simply work slower than anticipated. If not scheduled properly, one resource may also be needed for two different activities at the same time, sometimes resulting in disputes between stakeholders about which task needs to be prioritized.
Most people tend to underestimate how long an activity will take them to do. If you can estimate by how much team members have underestimated the effort of their tasks, you can balance the missing time in the schedule. Although sometimes frowned upon, padding can be a simple way to come to a more accurate schedule.
During the life cycle of a project, many complications can occur, sudden changes in the business environment, new technologies, and many other things may lead to delays or disruptions. Conducting a proper risk analysis at the beginning of the project planning process will ensure that these risks aren’t completely unforeseen and help you prepare for them as best as possible.
It’s important to ensure that leadership has realistic expectations about the project’s scope and the time and resources necessary to complete goals. If expectations are too high and the project team is unable to meet them, this can lead to frustration on both sides. As the project manager, you, therefore, need to communicate clearly what is known and can be predicted, what is unknown, and which risks exist.
This can derail a project schedule if they aren’t spotted quickly. You should, therefore, monitor work throughout the project’s life cycle, using a task management system that makes it easy to detect bottlenecks at a glance and relocate resources to solve the issue. Kanban boards, which were originally created in the automotive industry but have since become a popular in software project management and many other industries, can be useful in this case.
Now that you know the contents of a project plan, it’s time to look at how the project plan document is structured. A project plan starts with an executive summary that provides an overview of the entire project management approach, followed by the project scope, goals and objectives, schedule, budget, and other supporting plans.
Before you open a blank document and start to write, it can be helpful to create a simple project plan outline. You can use a mind map tool or similar software for this purpose. Outlining your project plan in a mind map will help you collect all important information on a single page, visualize dependencies, and highlight open questions and issues that still need to be addressed.
Such a mind map can also be saved as a template and reused in future projects.
Once you’re satisfied with the outline, you can export it into a document and start fleshing it out with more details.
Project planning is at the heart of the project life cycle, and tells everyone involved where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. The planning phase is when the project plans are documented, the project deliverables and requirements are defined, and the project schedule is created. It involves creating a set of plans to help guide your team through the implementation and closure phases of the project. The plans created during this phase will help you manage time, cost, quality, changes, risk, and related issues. They will also help you control staff and external suppliers to ensure that you deliver the project on time, within budget, and within schedule.
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