Project planning assures timely delivery and project success, a crucially necessary process in any technology company. It is the most critical phase in removing threats and project failures. Aiming toward an ideal project plan aids in increasing the likelihood of consumer satisfaction and their confidence in the company for future investments, as there is no success in a business plan if the execution does not come through.
Project planning requires several crucial steps that can help a company yield an efficient and successful process. Any company can have access to multiple tools of project planning like the Critical Path Method, PERT chart, or Gantt chart while they are in the process of forming a project plan.
The following article discusses the basics of project planning, its phases, its fundamentals, why it is so important for companies, some favoured tools that are used for project planning, and the primary steps.
What is Project Planning?
A project comprises five phases: initiation, planning, implementation, monitoring and managing, and closure. Planning is the secondary phase of the life cycle of any project, where, after the initiation phase, the plan is constructed so that the execution of the said plan can begin. The project plan acts as a roadmap for the complete procedure of project management. Project planning includes:
- Defining Goals: The definition must contain what the project is composed of, its main purpose, what it plans to achieve, and what denotes its closure.
- Clarifying the Scope: The explanation delivers facts on what the project plans to solve and who will profit from the project.
- Organising Tasks: Every task is allocated a start date and an end date and provides an estimation of how long the given task would take to complete.
- Rendering Progress Reports: The document contains the work to be completed, deliverables, and the planned result of the project.
Also known as the project management plan, project planning responds to the what, who, why, where, when and how of the project—to lay down the guidelines of a project with due dates and tasks. The objective of a project management plan is to navigate the execution and management of project phases. As it is mentioned above, a project plan comprises the following listed documents:
- Project Charter: Offers a broad outline of the project. It explains the project’s goals, reasons, constraints, objectives, and stakeholders, among other factors.
- Statement of Work: A statement of work (SOW) describes the project’s schedule, scope, milestones, deliverables, and tasks.
- Work Breakdown Structure: Breaks down the project scope into the project phases, deliverables, subprojects, and work packages that lead to the company’s last deliverable.
- Project Planning Template: The project planning template is split into factions to comprise the following: quality management, scope management, resource management, risk estimation, schedule management, stakeholder management and the transition management plan.
The Five Phases of the Life Cycle of a Project
Any project, whether large or small, can be very complicated. It is much more effortless to break down all the essential inclusions for a project plan by considering your project in terms of phases. The following five phases of a project have been identified by the Project Management Institute that will help us understand the proper procedure of project planning:
- Initiation: The beginning of a project, in which objectives and goals are determined through a business case and the suitability of the project is specified by a feasibility study.
- Planning: During this phase of the project planning, the scope of the project is determined by a project planning tool called Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and the project method to handle the project that is decided upon. Resources, quality and cost, are evaluated, and a project schedule with milestones and task dependencies is determined. The primary deliverable of this phase is the planning of the project created by the project team.
- Execution: The project deliverables are achieved during this phase. Generally, this phase starts with a kick-off meeting. It is followed by formal team meetings and status reports while the project team is working on the project.
- Monitoring and Managing: This phase is conducted in tandem with the execution phase of the project planning. Progress and performance metrics are calculated to keep track of the project, which is aligned with the planning of the project.
- Closure: The project is concluded when the stakeholder is given the final deliverable. Resources are released, agreements are signed off on, and, idealistically, there will be an evaluation of the successes and failures.
This article aims to provide you with all the resources and information required to create a project plan and get it authorised by your consumers and stakeholders. Now that we have learned about project planning and its phases, let us dive into the fundamentals, importance and tools required in project planning.
Also Read : Project Management Processes And Phases Explained!
Fundamentals of Project Planning
Project Planning refers to describing fundamentals that any business must analyse before getting into the planning and execution phase. Some of these fundamentals are as follows:
- Determination of Resources, Cost, and Scope
The procedure of determining the resources, cost, and scope aid in estimating the time needed to finish the project, the number of people required, and the skill set needed. The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) assists this procedure by splitting the entire task into smaller, manageable elements.
A combination of techniques, like meetings or surveys, is used to gather data to evaluate issues. There can be numerous concerns; then, the project team picks the problem that demands the most immediate attention.
- Identification of the Stakeholders
Identification of the stakeholders provides a more precise image of the actual problem, especially which people and functions might be impacted by the project. Stakeholders and the project team work together and contribute to the success of the project.
- Definition of Project Goals
A plan is created, keeping in mind the numerous anticipations of the stakeholders. The project’s success completely relies on how many anticipations the project can meet.
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The Importance of Project Planning for a Business
Project planning guarantees monitoring of the schedule and the budget at every stage. The project plan contains a schedule that steers the team members to achieve their tasks and enables them to understand the tool they will require and when. It also permits the team to stay committed to more high project performance. The project plan assures that there is enthusiastic participation of all the team members and lets them hold an opportunistic approach towards their job.
Project planning provides timely testing of the outcome at every stage. When successfully executed, all the people working on the project as a team can anticipate situations before they occur. This builds efficiencies and guarantees the successful implementation of the plan.
Furthermore, project planning enables analysing, prioritising, and ensuring a suitable plan for all sorts of risks. Accurate planning makes sure that there are more risks to expect and that they can be prioritised and managed properly. This step assures that nothing will fall apart, and the plan makes it effortless for the project team to memorise all the essential facts and deadlines.
Tools Required for Project Planning
The tools for project planning allow everyone interested in keeping track of project needs and deadlines. Some of the most favoured tools for planning a project include the following:
Gantt Chart is an industry benchmark that aids in tracing both time and interdependencies between the given tasks. Gantt charts are an important tool to demonstrate various jobs, phases, and resources concerned with project management.
- Critical Path Method (CPM)
The Critical Path Method (CPM) is an important tool for specifying the progress of the project to guarantee that the project will be completed as per the schedule. CPM assists in deciding the critical or essential course by discovering the longest stretch of interdependent tasks.
The Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) assists in examining the tasks to finish the project and the time needed to finish those tasks. PERT streamlines the planning and scheduling of extensive and complicated projects.
- Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a method of organising the work of the team into manageable elements. WBS is a hierarchical system of the deliverables required to conclude the project.
Project documentation is made during the project lifecycle, including the project schedule, scope, and risk estimation. Project documents assist in a more reasonable interpretation and risk estimation of the project.
Now that we have seen how project planning is crucial for any business, along with the fundamentals and tools required for efficient project planning, let us go through some of the steps that are crucial to the process of project planning.
Also Read: What is product planning and how is it done?
Steps Involved in Project Planning
Steps in project planning are crucial to help the project planning team make smart and efficient decisions during the planning phase in an orderly manner. There are seven important steps involved in project planning:
- Recognising and Holding a Meeting with the Stakeholder
The stakeholders can comprise the consumer, the project manager, or the project team itself. The foremost step is to recognise and get a meeting with the stakeholders to discuss their anticipations and specify the scope of the project.
- Defining the Scope of the Project
The project scope includes a determination of a list of precise project goals, budgets, deliverables, and deadlines. Project scope assists in specifying the limitations of the project and the obligations of each team member.
- Setting and Prioritising the Objectives
The objectives of the project are set and prioritised once it becomes certain what the shareholders expect out of the project. More specific details about initial concepts are provided, which function as a reference point throughout the project.
- Determining Deliverables
Projects are created for the sole purpose of the deliverables. One of the most crucial steps in project planning is to determine what these deliverables will be and how they will be delivered within the specified time limit.
- Creating a Schedule for the Project
A schedule for the project outlines when various tasks of a project are assumed to start and finish. The project schedule enables measuring the progress of the project and writing up progress reports.
Recognising the risks and planning how to tackle them is an important step in project planning. Crucial steps to prevent risks from ever happening or restricting their effect should be kept in mind.
- Setting Progress Guidelines
There needs to be a plan to communicate to provide an update to the stakeholders about the progress of the project. This can be done daily, weekly or monthly so that all concerned members can observe the progress.
Project planning ensures that the schedule and budget are watched at every step. It also guarantees that timely outcome testing is accomplished at every step. Furthermore, project planning supports prioritising, analysing, and ensuring an appropriate plan for all sorts of risks. Efficient planning promises that if there are multiple risks, they can be positioned based on priorities and tackled accordingly. The project plan serves as a guiding document. It makes it convenient for the team working on the project to address all the vital facts and deadlines.
No matter how promising the plan looks in the initial phase, it will not be profitable if it is not executed properly. The best way to guarantee success is to utilise one of the proven project planning processes already employed by some of the biggest and leading companies in today’s world.
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