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The Basics of Project Planning Concepts

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 6/25/2013

You need to understand an assortment of project planning concepts, which include the work breakdown structure, the schedule, the charter, resources, stakeholders, and risk analysis. This article will take you through the basics.

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    Work Breakdown Structures

    If you have spent any time at all here reading our content at Bright Hub PM, you will have noticed a lot of talk about the work breakdown structure (WBS). The WBS is a hierarchical, visual representation of all of the tasks and milestones involved in a project. The WBS is actually created in a later stage of project planning; it relies on the project plan having been created and the project itself being decomposed into the smallest components. It allows for project managers to craft accurate estimates. For more information on creating a WBS, you may want to read Ann Gordon's helpful article,"What Is a Work Breakdown Structure?".

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    The Project Schedule

    picture Few things in project management are as important as the project schedule. By creating a reliable and accurate schedule, project managers can ensure project success. Things to keep in mind when creating a project schedule include: determining whether to creat a baseline schedule, master project schedule, or individual schedules for team members.

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    The Project Charter

    The project charter is a brief document describing the objective of the project, the main milestones and tasks, and any resources that will be required. This document is submitted for project approval. It is important to be concise and clear in constructing this document. For an excellent discussion on the project charter and how to create it, see Linda Richter's article "What is a Project Charter?".

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    The Scope Statement

    A project scope statement defines the project. It lists all of the tasks and resources that will be part of the project, and only the tasks and resources that are part of that project. Like project charters, project scopes are best when they are clear and concise. For an introduction to writing scope statements, see Eric Stallsworth's article, "How to Write a Scope Statement."

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    Resources

    In project management, there are two types of resources: human resources and procurements. Human resources generally require more planning - they have to be allocated to tasks, and they require scheduling to keep the project within cost. Overtime is the biggest problem that can arrise from human resources. Procurements such as space, technology, or source material also have to be taken into acocunt. It is important during the planning phase to identify just which resources will be required for project completion.

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    Risk

    Risk in projects is the likelihood of the project's failure. During the project planning phase, risk must be analysed and a plan must be constructed to deal with risks in the event that they become actualized. Joe Taylor Jr. has written a very informative series on Risk Management.

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    Stakeholders

    The final project planning concept you should familiarize yourself with is that of the stakeholder. The stakeholder is anyone who holds an interest or influence over the project. It is important to identify early on because communication and risk plans must be constructed. By knowing who the project stakeholders are, you can customize your plan to suit their needs. Ciel S. Cantoria has written a thorough serieson stakeholder analyses, worth checking out.