Project Planning in Project Management: The Tools You Need

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Formalizing the Process

The first step in formalizing the project process is creating a project plan. A project plan is a document that is designed to guide project control and execution. The project plan enables communication between all parties that hold a stake in the success of the project.

The plan needs to describe the execution, management and control of the project in some detail. In your plan, you will make reference to other documents and spreadsheets that depict or describe specific timelines, budgeting, and quality assurance strategies rather than detailing these items directly in the project plan.

Specific Steps

  • Define the ultimate goal to be achieved by the project completion - the Project Manager must have a clear view of the goal of the project.

  • Develop a mission statement for the project - What is your project’s mission? This can be as simple or as complex as you choose to make it. Take your time and think it through before you lock it in.

  • Select the best strategy for the project. List all strategies for completing the tasks.

  • Prepare a Statement of Project Scope. This should be a living document and the Project Manager should be ready to revise it when necessary. It will help you maintain project boundaries, objectives and requirements.

  • Develop a detailed implementation plan. This will increase your chance of project success while minimizing scheduling and cost overruns.

  • Get the plan signed off by all project stakeholders. Create a standard form to be used on every project


Project plan checklists can help you stay on task and consider different questions that your project should answer.

  • I have not tried the Project Kickstart software, but they do have a detailed checklist posted. You can also read more about getting a project off to a good start in Michael Guerrero’s Project Proposal Checklist.

  • Greg Horine includes his checklist in the book Absolute Beginners Guide to Project Management second edition.

  • Bright Hub PM offers the best source for accessible online project planning resources and tools.

Get Started!

If you are familiar with project management, common sense plays a key role in project planning. Take the time to lay out your project in advance, using prior experience to assist your future project. Developing Your First Project Management Plan, by Michele McDonough provides additional project management planning tips.