This article directs readers through the streets of project planning using a carefully defined roadmap.
Which way do I turn?
When you begin the project planning process, it can be difficult to determine which steps you should take to get started. Have no more fear! This article is aimed to show you how to plan your project - one turn at a time.
1. Define the Project
The first step in planning a project is to define the project. This process involves determining what the project is, what the objective of the project is, and limiting the scope of the project. In defining the project, the aim is to be as specific as possible. Also, determine any deliverables the project will produce.
2. Plan the Milestones and Tasks
Once you have a solid definition and scope for your project, and the deliverables are known, you can define the milestones and important tasks of the project. This stage involves breaking down the milestones using decomposition, creating a Work Breakdown Structure, and defining work packages. Durations should also be estimated during this time, and a preliminary project schedule can be constructed.
3. Resource Planning
The next stop on the project planning roadmap is resource planning. Once the milestones and tasks have been identified, the next major project planning decision is the determination of who will be performing these tasks. Since durations have been estimated, the resources that will be required can be estimated. Also during this stage, the project team will be built, and resources will be allocated to tasks.
4. Risk Analysis
After resources and milestones have been identified, the risk analysis should begin. This step can be completed adjacent to cost estimating, but really, it is helpful to finish the risk analysis before completing cost estimates. This is because certain very likely risks should be budgeted for in the risk reserve. For more information on the risk reserve, you may wish to read my article, "How Do You Determine Risk Reserve in Project Management?" Risk analysis involves identifying risks, evaluating the likelihood and impact of risks, and coming up with a plan to deal with risk in the project.
5. Cost Estimating
The next to last turn on the project planning roadmap is cost estimating. Once the time, resources, and potential risks have been identified, then costs can be identified. For more information on cost estimating during the project planning phase, read my article, "Project Planning as a Basis for Cost Estimating."
The final step before working up the official documents that are produced during the project planning phase of the project lifecycle (project charter, scope statement, project plan), is to draw up a communication plan. Devising a comunication plan is important because the project stakeholders (those with influence and importance to the project) are identified. It also spells out when and how communication will occur. For more information on drawing up a communication plan, read Joe Taylor Jr.'s article, "Elements of a Communication Plan: Viewing Stakeholders as an Audience."