project monitoring

Do You Use These Steps for Successful Project Planning?

April 4, 2016 by

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.


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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
  • Resources
  • Schedule
  • Costs
  • 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.


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