How to Plan Your Project With Your Team
“In all things, success depends on previous preparation, and without such preparations there is sure to be failure”. Confucius (551 B.C. to 479 B.C.)
Between project approval and project execution, there is a very important step – project planning! In addition to developing a robust plan, you also need to get your team onboard with the proposed work.
It’s best to plan your project collaboratively with the team so everyone is clear about their responsibilities and contributions to project success.
During this phase of the project, you’ll need to decide:
- What to include in the plan.
- How to involve your team in planning.
- How to notify the team of their tasks.
What should you include in your project plan?
The exact details of your plan will depend on the scope and complexity of your project.
At a minimum, you should include the project statement, tasks, and documents. These can be stored in a collaborative project site, for example, using SharePoint, for quick access.
At a later stage, you can add risks and issues to your project site as needed.
1. The Project Statement
The project statement is also known as the project profile, project charter, or project definition. This document outlines the purpose of the project and other important information such as dates.
The project statement is a useful baseline for reporting during project execution.
2. Project Tasks
If you have enough information to plot all the tasks, do! If not, create a simple list with available tasks and update later on.
You may wish to group tasks by phase or milestone.
Be sure to note any dependencies between and subtasks.
Depending on your project management software, map the tasks into a Gantt chart and adjust as needed.
3. Project Documents
Store all project documents in a single library to avoid any confusion later on. Ask your team to use only these documents and avoid saving multiple copies locally.
How to Plan Your Project With Your Team
During planning, you can take one of three approaches:
- Plan the project as a team.
- Do all the planning yourself.
- Bring the team in for parts of planning.
1. Plan the project as a team
The first option is to bring the team together and as a group, plan and desk-check the project plan.
As a team, you plan the project in a workshop format.
As a team, you also desk-check the resulting project plan, again in a workshop format. This is a ‘double-check’ of the plan to ensure all essential elements are in place.
This makes it easier to for everyone to understand the plan and their responsibilities as they are involved from the outset.
2. Do all the planning yourself
The second option is that you do all the planning work yourself before notifying the team of their responsibilities.
3. Bring the team in for parts of planning
The third option is to do a mix of the above two. For example, you could develop an initial plan before getting input from the team.
The first option (collaboratively working through the three steps) requires more upfront time, but it has the potential to save you time in the long run. If it’s well executed, you’ll develop a better and win more buy-in from your project team.
Check Your Plan
Once the plan is ready, ask the team and stakeholders to provide feedback.
Remember – you need to balance time, quality, and scope. Known as the triple constraint, each factor will impact on your plan and timelines.
You need to manage the scope within the time available so your team can deliver the desired level of quality using the budget and resources assigned to the project.
Any major changes should be agreed with the project stakeholder before you update the project statement and timelines.
Planning Your Project with SharePoint
If you are using SharePoint to manage your projects, planning work is very simple.
As shown in the below image – taken from our free template – you add links to guide teams through project planning.
Tasks are easily assigned and managed using an Excel-like grid. For more complex timelines, use the In-Browser Task Scheduler or the sync with Microsoft Project – both available with the full BrightWork solution.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.