Every project tells a story about its objectives, timing, group, and deliverables — and it needs in-depth and thorough project planning and management to put the story straight. Some of the stories are extremely short and to the mark, while others are exclusive novels with twists and turns. Irrespective of the length of the story, every one of them is based on an outline — or in other words, a project plan.
Project planning is the technique of establishing the scale and range and defining the goals and steps to achieve them. It is one of the most critical processes that make up project management. The result of the project planning process is a project management plan.
A project plan, also referred to as project management plan, is a document that includes a project scope and goals. It is basically displayed in the form of a Gantt chart to make it simpler to connect to stakeholders. Learning how to formulate and build a project plan shouldn’t have to be complicated.
Developing a Project Plan
If you’re wondering if it’s an intimidating process, it is not. Follow these nine project planning steps, and you will be well-versed with not only planning a project but also deploying it successfully.
#1 Identify All Stakeholders
Several stakeholders are part of your project, and not all of them are associated directly with it. These include your customer, the company and its leaders, the end-users, and the team working on it.
Based on the nature of your project, stakeholders may also be outside of your company or separate community members that are influenced by the project.
#2 Provide Roles and Responsibilities
Once you’ve identified the stakeholders, you need to figure out the project management skills needed for the project. When you are ready with the list, you can define the roles and set responsibilities to the stakeholders.
Always keep in mind that a role is not the same as an individual. At times, one person may be fit for multiple roles, including having a designated emergency contact, a role that requires a few extra work hours to a person’s schedule. In other cases, a lot of people may hold multiple roles, such as when your project needs multiple software engineers.
Team roles will differ based on your project. However, make sure to include a vendor relations role and a customer relations role.
#3 Hold a Meeting
Holding a meeting is an opportunity to bring all stakeholders together and determine what’s best for the project and how everyone will achieve it. Moreover, it’s also an opportunity to get to know the team members and establish good working relationships.
This stage doesn’t yet involve determining the project details, but it is advisable to include a discussion on the project scope, cost, timeline, and objectives in the agenda.
#4 Define Project Score, Costs, Timeline, and Objectives
After the meeting, it’s time to define the project scope, cost, and goals of your project. The project scope defines what you are supposed to do in the projects, along with understanding the goals. The budget tells you about the expected financial cost of the project.
The project timeline defines the project phases and the amount of time you can expect them to complete.
#5 Set Goals
Once your team understands the project objectives and determines their phases, break down the objectives into separate goals and tasks. Prioritize tasks as per their importance and dependencies.
Moreover, you’ll need a system to make sure to conduct corrective actions when goals aren’t met on time.
#6 Define Deliverables
Project deliverables are defined by the project objectives and are a crucial part of the overall project plan. If the customer’s end goal is for the consumers to handle their own content, for instance, the deliverables must be a piece of software that allows them to manage content. Moreover, it should also include training materials for consumers and employees on ways to use the new software tool.
#7 Develop a Project Schedule
Developing a project schedule is an important part of the project plan as it reveals significant adjustments in your roles, timeline, and overall project cost.
It is better for you to make these adjustments before beginning the project, rather than weeks or months later.
#8 Risk Assessment is Important
A risk is an issue that may or may not emerge over the course of the project. However, it is necessary to recognize the potential risks and resolve them at the project planning phase instead of being caught off guard later in the project. Hold a meeting to take suggestions from all team members about the potential risks that should be considered.
#9 Communicate the Plan of the Project
Once you’ve curated your project plan, make sure to discuss it with your team members and other stakeholders. You may have developed a project communication plan when you create your project schedule. If not, you need to do it immediately.
The Bottom Line
Project planning is a critical stage that follows the initial project management phases. By means of proper planning, you simplify the entire project into a set of steps and ensure the availability of all the assets on time.
Project elements, such as scope, expenses, and time are discussed in the project planning phase, and mitigation plans are built following the recognition of potential challenges. You can compare the actual progress with the project plan, along with monitoring the progress of your team and taking necessary actions to build it.