Do You Use These Steps for Successful Project Planning?
The project planning process is a set of tasks for setting up a project plan and defining the supporting plans such as the project resource plan, communications plan, and risk plan.
Project Management is Organisational Dependent
- The execution of project management within an organization is always subjective, depending on a company’s culture, politics, people, and processes.
- It is always questionable when a project management methodology is implemented into an organization without awareness of these key factors.
- Usually, all best practices have to be implemented within an organization as fit for purpose to be accepted and used successfully.
The Project Planning Process
- Most projects are started with some form of project request either by email or a formal notification such as a Project Mandate.
- While some organizations adhere closely to PRINCE2 methodology and use both a Project Brief and a Project Initiation Document, other organizations either just use a Project Brief without a Project Initiation Document.
- The contents of a Project Brief provides a substantial amount of content for the Project Initiation Document (PID) or the Project Charter.
- The key to a successful project is in the planning upfront as it will save time, money and solve many problems if done correctly at the beginning of a project.
- The project planning process is a set of tasks for setting up a project plan and defining the supporting plans such as the project resource plan, communications plan, and risk plan
- A key factor for the successful implementation of a project management methodology within an organization is its customization to a company’s internal culture and policies.
- It is always a debatable question on how much documentation should be part of a project but even if not all the actual recommended processes or documents are used, they can be a very useful checklist of the information required to ensure a successful project outcome.
The Stakeholders are anyone who has an interest in the project. A project is deemed successful when the needs of the stakeholders have been met to their expectations.
Examples of stakeholders are:
- The Project Sponsor
- Project manager
- Project team members
- Senior management
- Project customer
- Resource Managers
- Line Managers
- Project testers
- The business who receives the deliverables
- The business user group
- Subject matter experts (SMEs)
- Third party vendors.
Inputs to Project Planning Process
- Business Case
- Project Brief
- Project Initiation Document (PID) or Project Charter.
Project Planning involves the following areas:
- Work tasks
- Project quality
- Project risks
- Project procurement activities
- The project team.
Project Planning Principles
- The purpose of project planning is to develop a plan.
- Project planning is not a one-time activity performed at the beginning of the project and multiple passes are required.
- The project team must have control over (scope, time, cost and performance). Senior management can set some of these limits.
- Proactive project management means effective project planning (change control, communications, risk, and quality management).
- Project planning is at the bottom of the mountain to ask questions, facilitation, interaction, and feedback.
Project Planning Basics
- Perform stakeholder analysis on all your management and customer stakeholders.
- Validate the project definition elements.
- Understand their expectations and communication needs.
- Review procedures for dealing with critical issues, risks, change requests and performance variances.
- The team members doing the work should be involved in defining and estimating the work to be performed.
Key Project Planning Questions
- Why are we doing this project?
- What is the project supposed to accomplish?
- Who is the Sponsor?
- Who are the key stakeholders? ‘
- Who are the customers?
- How exactly will the deliverables be produced?
- Who will do the work?
- What other resources (facilities, tools) will we require to do the work?
- Where will the work occur?
- How long will it take to do the work?
- When will the work be done?
- How much will this project cost?
- What skills, skill levels, and experience is needed for each role?
- When do I need each resource?
- How do I get resources?
- Who is responsible and accountable for what?
- How will changes be controlled?
- How do I ensure acceptable quality in deliverables and the process?
- How will I keep stakeholders informed, get their feedback, and what mediums are best?
- How will I track issues?
- How will critical issues be escalated?
- How do we handle variances?
- What is the threshold for senior management?
- What communications need to occur?
- What risks exist?
- What are the assumptions?
- What are the dependencies?
- What are the response strategies?
- How will version control be conducted?
- How will project information be maintained and secured?
- How will the project team be managed?
- How will performance be evaluated?
- How will project performance be measured and reported?
- Is there a plan to execute and control this project?
Key Project Planning Activities
- Validate the project definition.
- Reconfirm the business case is still valid.
- Determine what needs to be done (the deliverables) and how.
- Determine acceptance criteria for each deliverable.
- Determine resource needs based on the tasks and activities that need to be performed, determine the type and quantity of resources needed.
- Acquire resources.
- Estimate the work once all the work activities are known, the effort and duration for each activity can be estimated.
- Develop the schedule once the required resources are understood and the estimated effort for each work task, the relationship between these tasks can be identified and a schedule developed.
- Create a Resource Management Plan.
- Develop a project milestone schedule summary.
- Develop a RACI matrix.
- Create a role responsibility chart.
- Create a project organization chart.
- Determine project costs and budgets.
- Determine the project control system and gain agreement on how the performance of the project will be measured, how often, and how it will be reported.
- Plan for change; review, assess and manage any request of any factor that has an impact on the key performance factors (scope, quality, time, cost).
- Plan for project information:
- Where will the project repository be located?
- Who can access it?
- Who controls it?
- Plan for issues:
- All projects have issues and action must be taken to resolve them.
- Establish a process in advance to track these issues and a procedure to escalate any critical issue to the appropriate management stakeholders.
- Plan for quality, determine the quality standards and policies that project deliverables and processes must meet.
- Plan for communications.
- Plan for team management.
- Plan for procurements.
Project Planning Deliverables Overview
- Using the goals you have defined, create a list of things the project needs to deliver to meet those goals.
- Specify when and how each item must be delivered.
- Add the deliverables to the project plan with an estimated delivery date.
- More accurate delivery dates will be established during the scheduling phase, which is next.
Project Planning Deliverables
- Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
- Project Schedule
- Project Budget
- Resource Plan
- Procurement Pan
- Development Plan
- Capacity Plan
- Security Plan
- Test Plan
- Pilot Plan
- Training Plan
- Communications Plan
- Risk Plan
- Deployment Plan.