Project planning is a skill that is highly in demand today. For most of us, despite what the job description states, project management is a part of the job. When it comes to recruiting fresh talents, project management is a skill that is highly sought in the job market.
Since project planning is an integral part of project management, it is ideal to stay updated on the topic. A good project planner pens down the most detailed project schedule that guides the team to the finish line efficiently. By identifying, prioritising, and allocating the ideal tasks to the right person, you can create a perfect strategy.
If you have not managed as many projects before, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the process. However, with some organisation and guidance, project planning is simple enough for you to conquer. Read on to find out everything you need to know about planning for your upcoming project.
While creating a project plan, it is imperative to identify the key elements of the plan. Simply, it makes sense to jot down the milestones and basic goals that you aim to achieve. The crucial elements to include in your project plan are:
Emphasising what you expect from the project can help you streamline your efforts. After the breakdown of the reasons for undertaking the project and the benefits reaped from it, you can elaborate on your project plan. Your project goal forms the link between your project charter and project plan, so analyse the needs and interests of all the parties involved before laying down the project goals.
The scope statement forms the foundation of your project plan. It can be best described as a list of specific features, deliverables, tasks, functions, costs, and deadlines; these are what need to be done to complete the project meticulously. With the scope statement, the project manager ensures that everyone involved is on the same page. It also helps in finalising the deals and agreements with external stakeholders and vendors.
Anticipating the expenses for completing the project, and comparing them to the revenue and constraints can help you find ways to realistically execute the project. While navigating the process of budgeting, you also need to take your team’s time and skills into consideration.
Recognising the relationships between the various tasks of the project can improve its efficiency. When tasks are mutually related, you cannot start a new task until the related ones are completed. By determining the dependencies before the project is underway, the course of the project can be charted.
Techniques for the Project Planning Process
Project planning techniques are the roadmap to successful completion. Using a project planning technique, you organise all the parts of your project into a logical set of tasks. Even though all techniques are not alike, depending on your goals, you can choose the technique that suits you best. Remember, what worked for one project need not work for every other project you oversee.
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
If you need to transform a big activity into easily understandable chunks, WBS is what you need. WBS can be used as a project management technique or as a step in determining your project goals. To get started with WBS, start with the final result you have in mind, then break down the goal into a series of steps needed to reach that goal. As you proceed in this manner, you will reach a point where the work cannot be divided into smaller chunks. These are the deliverables you can start with.
As a technique that is suited for both beginners and pros, Gantt charts have been around for a long time. They can be used as a project planning technique in themselves or as organisational tools. Visualising the project goals and timeline is a major attraction of this technique. Since most project management tools offer Gantt charts, all you need to do is enter the data and wait for the results to be visually represented for you.
Regarded as the best agile methodology technique, scrum can ensure that every aspect of your project turns out spotlessly. While using this technique, the team works in sprints. Each sprint is a deliverable you have in mind and it should not last more than two weeks. With regular meetings to review the progress, your team can move on to the next sprint as soon as you finish one.
This is the simplest project planning technique in existence. Suited especially to amateur project planners, you can get started by creating three separate columns: To-do, Doing, and Done. Shift your tasks from one category to another depending on their status. This technique is helpful for teams that multitask often or handle only simple projects.
How to Manage Your Project Plan?
For foolproof project plan management, these are steps that you need to follow religiously. Start with identifying and meeting the stakeholders. Discuss their needs and expectations to establish a scope, budget, and timeline. Look out for chances of miscommunication and risk management to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Following this, set the goals for the project and prioritise them. Based on the urgency, importance, and dependency of activity with others, outline a course of action for your team to proceed in. As an extension of this, define the deliverables as well. Estimate the due date for each deliverable and track the progress regularly. By following this pattern, you will be able to create a project schedule that works for you and your stakeholders.
How To Make a Project Plan When You Don’t Have All the Answers
If tackling a project has stumped you, the best way to resolve it is by using the simplest of organisation techniques. Start with the WBS technique; it can help you identify and classify all the tasks that are involved with the project.
Once you have identified the activities, formulating a plan and stating its execution is easy with the help of your dedicated team members. Inviting your team to make the project plan also accelerates your progress.
How Long Does the Project Planning Phase Take?
Depending on the scope and size of your project, the planning phase can take up to 2-3 months. However, project planning is a consistent part of project management. As a project manager, you will need constant alterations and additions to the plan. Therefore the planning process ends only at the completion of the project itself.
Summing It Up
Project management calls for precision in order to have the best results. Effective planning and decision-making skills can aid in constructing a plan that suits the project. While designing project plans, being open to suggestions and constantly reviewing the plan are great ways to ensure success.