Planning a Project – An Overview

After the management of the organization has initiated the project, the project is assigned to a project manager. As a project manager when you receive the project, you start with the thorough planning on how the project should be managed and completed. It is rightly said that failure to planning is like planning to failure. The success of the project completely depends on how well you have planned the project. A thoroughly planned project forms the basis of the success of the project. However, a poorly planned project is destined to be doomed.

In a well planned project, you take care of planning each and every aspect of the project, right from the scope of the project to the quality of the deliverables. The plan must consider the viability of the project in terms of the financial aspects. Following is a summary of various aspects around which you must put your efforts when planning a project. Most of these activities flow in a sequential order. Each of the following aspects are covered in details in an individual or a series on articles on these aspects of a project:

  • Plan the planning:The first thing you must consider when starting the project planning is how you are going to plan for the project. You must consider the areas that the project is going to or would be getting impacted, and plan to handle each of these areas effectively.
  • Finalize the requirements: Even before you start putting your efforts in a project, you must finalize the requirements. If you do not finalize the requirements right in the beginning of the project, frequent change requests from the stakeholders not only hamper the project progress, but also add a lot of rework and resource wastage.
  • Scope planning:Scope management is another important aspect of the project. Here, you define the items that are within the scope of the project and the ones that are out of scope for the project. To make the project successful, you must plan to manage the scope of the project to make sure that stakeholders know exactly what is the outcome of the project.
  • Resource planning:You must identify the resources that you need to complete the project, which includes movable and immovable resources. Additionally, it includes the duration for which the resource is required for the project.
  • Purchase planning:When creating a purchase plan, you must identify the resources that you can use in-house, the ones you should rent, and the ones for which you need to make an outright purchase from the market.
  • Work breakdown structure:Work breakdown structure (WBS) is yet another very important aspect of the project planning. In this stage, you break the project into small and atomic individual activities that can be managed efficiently. In a work breakdown structure, you need to identify the smallest units of the work items that can be started and completed as a unit. A work breakdown structure provides a bird’s eye view of the project and helps identifying various dependencies in the project. Work breakdown structure is the key deliverable of the project planning and forms an input for various planning activities.
  • Team planning:After understanding the project requirements and the work breakdown structure, you must identify the team required to complete the project. This includes the size of the team as well as the expertise you need to complete the project. Depending on the expertise and experience, you need to assign various roles and responsibilities to the team members to get the work done.
  • Communication planning:You must plan how the team would be communicating within as well as outside the team. It is important to establish a protocol as well as the mode of the communication to avoid any communication issues during the project and even after the project is completed.
  • Risk mitigation planning:You must identify and define the probable risks associated to the project, however big or small these might be. Mere identification of the risks would be of no use unless and until you plan on how to mitigate the identified risk. Success of the project is also based on how well you have planned to identify and mitigate risks at each and every stage of the project.
  • Project execution planning:After you have planned the complete project, you must also plan how to execute the plan. You must plan all the nitty gritties of the project. This includes how you are planning to actually implement the plan you have created for the project.
  • Project kick off:You must get the project plan approved and signed off by the stakeholders to make sure that everyone is on the same page and there is no communication gap. After the project plan is approved, you must hold a project kick off meeting with all stakeholders and present the detailed project plan. A project kick off meeting marks the formal start of the project plan.
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