Project planning is an essential part of the project management process that sets out what needs to get done, who is responsible for tasks, and how it will be achieved. It defines the project’s scope and limits the possibilities of scope creep. It also identifies deliverables, their due dates, and what will be required to create each one. Project planning also includes identifying and communicating the project’s risks.
Stakeholders are a critical part of any project, and their expectations must be understood to avoid surprises. To this end, the project planning phase should involve gathering stakeholder feedback to ensure that the final plan meets their needs.
This should include a review of their stated needs, but it is also helpful to dig deeper and find out what their real underlying goals are. Identifying these broader desired benefits can help set more specific project goals. This step is also when project costs can be estimated and a budget established, if necessary.
The next step is establishing the timeline for the project. It is important to consider any external dependencies and how these may affect project delivery dates. For example, if a key supplier has a history of late deliveries, creating a contingency plan to source from another vendor can minimize the impact on the overall project schedule.
During the project planning phase, it is important to set up a system for monitoring and reporting. This can include tracking changes and logging important meetings, as well as recording meeting notes and responses to issues and risks that arise during the project. The planning phase is also the time to determine leadership roles and responsibilities, communicate with team members and stakeholders, and provide status updates as needed.
Stakeholders will have a variety of communication styles and preferences, and it is important to establish a communication plan during the planning process. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding communication tools, schedules, and protocols. It will also allow for clear lines of communication should an issue arise that requires immediate attention.
Another important component of a good project plan is determining the work breakdown structure (WBS). This is the process of breaking down each task into smaller components, or work packages. This allows for more efficient scheduling and helps reduce the likelihood of unexpected delays in meeting deadlines. It is also a great way to make sure that the project can be completed within its budget, and will provide value to stakeholders once it has been completed. Lastly, the project plan should be reevaluated at major milestones to ensure that the team is on track to meet its goals. During this time, any issues that may have been encountered can be addressed and the original project plan can be revised if needed. This can also be an opportunity to celebrate successes and identify areas for improvement going forward.