Project planning is the process of creating the project management plan, also known as a “project charter.” In this stage you identify stakeholders and review the organization’s approach to project management. You also define the scope, goals and budget of the project. This is an essential part of the project lifecycle as it ensures that all the necessary details are compiled before work begins. This helps prevent the project from being derailed or stalled by unforeseen issues, such as scope creep and resource shortages.
The purpose of a project plan is to provide clarity for everyone on the team about the tasks involved and how to complete them. You can also use a project plan as an opportunity to identify any potential risks and develop strategies to address them before they arise. You may find that during this phase, you need to tweak the roles and responsibilities for different project activities or adjust milestone dates if they won’t be met in time.
During the planning process, you should also look at the project’s requirements and determine what is needed to accomplish each task. This includes identifying all deliverables, the dates they are due and any dependencies between them. You can then create a timeline or Gantt chart that shows when each task is expected to begin and end. This is important as it enables you to monitor the progress of the project and set up progress reports.
You must also consider the available resources, such as funds, raw materials and team members. This will help you decide if you have enough resources to achieve your goals and how you can prioritize the work to be completed. You can also use a technique called work breakdown structure to break down larger, complex tasks into smaller, more manageable components for your project team.
One of the most critical aspects of the planning phase is identifying stakeholders and their individual needs. Stakeholders include anyone who has a stake in the project’s success, including project team members, sponsors and the end users of the project’s output.
It’s also important to look beyond the stakeholders’ stated needs and identify their underlying objectives that should be fulfilled by your project. You can then set your own project goals to align with those objectives.
Projects are always full of surprises, both good and bad. When changes occur, it’s essential to have a project change control process in place that provides a framework for managing and tracking those requests. Ideally, this process is outlined in the project plan so that all stakeholders are aware of how to request and approve changes, how these will be addressed and what the impact will be.
It’s also important to include your project managers in the planning process. They have valuable insights into how tasks get done, how long they take and who’s the best person for each one. Involving them in the planning process will help you create a well-thought out project schedule that takes these factors into account.