Thursday 3 February 2022

Project planning - step-by-step instructions



The key to a successful project is planning. Creating a project plan is the first thing you should do when starting any project.

Often, project planning is ignored and work begins as quickly as possible. Most simply do not realize the value of planning, which is to save time, money and avoid many problems.

This article discusses a simple, practical approach to project planning. After reading this guide, you will have a consistent approach to planning that you can use in your projects.

Step 1 - Project Objectives

A project is considered successful if all the needs of the participants have been met. A participant can be anyone who is directly or indirectly connected with the project.

As a first step, it is very important to identify all project participants. It is not always easy to identify all participants, in particular those who are under its indirect influence. Examples of participants include:

Project Sponsor

  • A client who will receive the results of work
  • Users of the manufactured product
  • Project Manager and Project Team
  • Once you understand who the participant is, your next step is to identify their needs. The best way is to conduct an interview. Take some time to create a list of all the true benefits. Often, participants talk about their needs, which, however, are not always relevant and do not promise benefits. These needs can be recorded, but will have low priorities.

The next step, after conducting an interview and creating a list of needs, is to prioritize. By having a list of priorities, you can make a set of goals that can be easily measurable. A good technique to accomplish this would be to consider goals on the principle of "smart goals". That way, you'll have a clearer idea that a goal has been achieved.

Once you have defined a clear set of goals, they should be written down in the project plan. You should also write down the needs and expectations of all participants.

This is the most difficult part of drawing up a project plan. Next, we'll look at the results of the .

Step 2 - Project Results

Using these goals defined in step 1, create a list of what the project must provide to achieve those goals. Specify when and how each should be provided.

Add these results to the project plan based on a specific date. More specific dates will be set at the time of scheduling, which will be discussed later.

Step 3 - Project Schedule

Create a list of actions that must be performed to create each result that you defined in step 2. For each job, define the following:

  • Amount of effort (hours per day) required to complete a task
  • Who will perform the task
  • Once you've set the amount of effort required for each job, you can calculate the amount of effort required to get each result and the specific completion date. Update the results block in the plan with new specific dates.

At this stage of planning, you can choose to use software such as Microsoft Project to create a project schedule. Alternatively, you can use the many different templates available. There you can enter all tasks, dates, resources and results, as well as everyone who will perform it.

A common problem at this stage is whether the completion date coming from the sponsor does not always match your estimates. If you understand this in a timely manner, then you should immediately contact the sponsor. You have several options:

  • Discuss deadlines (extending the project)
  • Include additional resources (increasing costs)
  • Reduce project scale (less functionality)
  • Use the project schedule to persuade the sponsor to one of the options.

Step 4 - Supporting Plans

This section describes the plans that you must create as part of the planning process. They can be included in the plan.

Human resources management plan

Identify people and organizations by name, as well as the project leader. For each of them, describe his role and responsibility in the project.

Next, describe the number and type of people you want to include in your project. For each, specify the start date of its work, the set duration of the project, and the method you will use to get the results.

Create one general document about all of this.

Communication plan

Create a document that shows who should be aware of the project and how they will receive this information. The most common method is weekly/monthly progress reports, which describe the development of the project, the milestones reached and the work plan for the next period.

Risk Management Plan

Risk management is an important part of the project management process. Although it is often ignored, it is very important to identify as many risks as possible in your project and be prepared for anything.

Here are some examples of common project risks:

  • Too optimistic estimation of costs and time
  • Reviews and customer reviews that are too slow
  • Unexpected budget cuts
  • Unclear roles and responsibilities
  • The contributions of the project participants were not considered or their needs were not understood
  • Participants change requirements after the start of the project
  • Participants add new requirements after the start of the project
  • Poor communication channel resulting in misunderstandings, quality issues and alterations
  • Lack of enthusiasm of employees
  • Risks can be tracked using a simple risk log. Add each specific risk to your journal and describe your perceived actions in the event that it occurs. Review your journal regularly, adding new risks as needed as they arise. Remember that even if you ignore the risks, they still will not disappear from this.

If you follow all these steps, then you will have a great project plan. Remember that you need to update your plan as the project progresses, as well as measure progress by comparing it to the plan.

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