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Three Great Project Planning Forms

written by: Michele McDonough • edited by: Marlene Gundlach • updated: 6/30/2013

Before you embark on any project, it’s important to spend some time in the planning stage to make sure that everyone is on the same page. With these simple and downloadable planning forms, keeping focus on the entire project, from beginning to end, will become much easier.

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    Making Planning Easier

    Planning Process One of the most critical stages in the development of any project is the planning stage. This is the time when all possible information should be gathered about the project’s goals and what will be needed to accomplish them. Putting a little extra effort into the planning process not only wards off later headaches before they hit, but it also provides a way to make sure the entire project team is on track with what needs to be done and the steps that will be taken to arrive at that end result.

    It’s important during this phase to put expectations down on paper so that the scope of the project doesn’t become misunderstood, and unnecessary tangents can be avoided. Although certain project aspects may seem trivial, and documenting these items might feel like “busy work,” nothing could be further from the truth. The following project planning forms can be downloaded if you click on the links, to provide a great way of making sure everyone is on the same page.

    Available Forms

    Problem Definition – There wouldn’t be need for a project if there wasn’t some type of problem, right? In this case, the word “problem” has a very liberal definition. It may refer to deficiencies in an existing method or product, or it may simply be the case that some process is lacking entirely. With this project planning form, you can clearly outline what the existing problem is.This is also a great tool to use in conjunction with other brainstorming session documents.

    Project Benefits – Just as it is important to clearly understand the problem, it’s also imperative that you are able to demonstrate how the current project is going to fix the problem. Again, while seemingly fundamental, this is another area where teams often get off track, especially with larger projects. At times, there will be cases when a project can be expanded to include solutions of additional problems, but this project planning form will help ensure that the focus of the original problem is not lost in these endeavors.

    Project Overview – This project planning form goes hand-in-hand with the Definition and Benefits forms. The other two forms define the problem and show how the completion of the project will solve the problem. This document is an overview of the steps that will be taken to get from problem to solution. It doesn’t have to be as detailed as a complete project timeline or a specific collection of action items, but it should include the basic strategy that will be used to put the project in motion.

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    Additional Resources

    In addition to these project planning forms, there are a number of other free resources available at Bright Hub PM. Many of the articles on this list wil lead you to documents that you can download and adapt to your own project. For a guide to some of these items, check out Bright Hub PM's resource management page.