Every project tells a unique story about deliverables, timing, team members, and its goals. If you are in charge of a project, you need to create a project plan before moving to more important things.
Sometimes you can't wait to jump right into the project and figure things along the way, but you will accomplish much better results if you make a project plan first.
Consider this to be your foundation, which will serve you to move forward. Keep in mind that without a proper plan, you are risking misleading your team members. Instead of going in one direction, they will be heading in multiple directions. So, we have formulated a few steps to create a project plan, which will help you lead your team with confidence.
Steps in project planning
Identify stakeholders. A stakeholder can be anyone who is affected by the project plan, and this includes end-users and customers. It's crucial to identify your stakeholders and focus on their interests when drafting a project plan. Be aware that this is one of the most crucial project planning steps. Meet with stakeholders and project sponsors to revise project expectations and their needs and establish a baseline for budget, project scope, and timeline.
Set up your goals. Once you have listed stakeholders' needs, it's time to establish specific goals. For instance, these goals should outline project objectives and the metrics you are hoping to accomplish.
Explain deliverables. It is necessary to define project planning steps and deliverables required to meet a project's goals. First, determine what specific outputs you are trying to produce. Next, try to specify the date for each deliverable.
Make a schedule. The project schedule will help you stay on track and find tasks that need to be completed. Each task should have a due date, the amount of time necessary to complete, required resources, and the person in charge. Also, check whether you have to complete one task before moving to another.
Run a risk assessment. Every project involves a certain level of risk. So, you can cross your fingers and hope for the best or run a risk assessment and identify potential issues that can jeopardize your project.
Present your project plan. The final step in project planning is presenting your project plan to stakeholders, and it's crucial to master the skill of presenting effectively. You should explain how your plan addresses their expectations, and don't forget to offer your solution to any conflicts.
The five stages of project planning
Managing a project is not an easy task, regardless of the scope or scale. So here are the project planning basics, the five stages necessary for every project's execution.
- Project initiation: this is the first stage in which you turn an abstract idea into a meaningful goal.
- Project planning: creating a roadmap for your project, identifying requirements, creating a detailed schedule, making a communication plan, and setting up deliverables.
- Project execution: this is where your team gets to work. Your only job is to establish an efficient workflow and carefully monitor their progress.
- Project controlling and monitoring: ensuring that project deliverables and objectives are met.
- Project closing: the final phase indicates the end of your project, right after the final delivery.
Creating a project plan
We can summarize the basic outline of any project plan in the following steps:
1. Define requirements, success criteria, milestones, deliverables, quality baseline, scope, and your project's stakeholders. At this point, you need to create a statement of work, work breakdown structure, and a project charter.
2. Recognize potential risks and assign deliverables to your team members. They will monitor the required tasks and the risk linked to them.
3. Organize your project team and define their responsibilities and roles.
4. Create a list of necessary project resources, materials, salaries, equipment, and personnel.
5. Develop change management forms and procedures.
6. Set up a communication plan, budget, schedule, and other guiding documents related to the project.
What should a project plan include?
In the previous steps, we learned how to plan a project, so now it's time to learn what features one project plan should include.
Project charter: it offers us a general overview of the project while describing the project's goals, reasons, stakeholders, constraints, objectives, and other aspects.
Statement of work: also known as SOW, it defines a project's tasks, milestones, deliverables, schedule, and scope.
Work breakdown structure: as the name implies, this structure breaks down project scope into project deliverables, work packages, subprojects, and phases that lead to a final deliverable.
Project plan: a project plan is divided into sections and covers the following: scope and quality management, resource management, risk assessment, schedule, and shareholder management, along with a change management plan.
Planning a project from start to finish
When receiving a project, many of us go straight for the planning part. However, it's crucial to take a breath and break down your project into smaller pieces. This will make the whole thing easier to understand. Additionally, it will provide you with a head start in determining which part you should invest more time and resources in. The project planning process involves the following stages:
- Set goals – having more goals instead of one will give you more motivation.
- Assign and identify tasks – it's crucial to define all tasks in detail for each milestone and goal you've set previously.
- Select a perfect team – once you have all tasks and objectives defined, it's time to choose an ideal team.
- Edit and revise – go through all the steps one more time and make cuts when required, even with people.
- Create a timeline – decide how long each task will take because this will determine the duration of your project.
- Keep everything on track – use technology or your favorite project management tool to have a clear overview of everything you do.
- Reward – when you reach certain milestones and goals, celebrate, of course. Make sure to reward your team for their performance.
How can a project planning app help plan projects?
Project management tools have become a necessity if you want to plan and execute your project efficiently. They help you manage resources, respond to problems, and involve all stakeholders and team members.
Regardless of the service you offer, project management software can make a significant impact. Here are the benefits of project planning software:
- Advanced scheduling and planning
- Improved collaboration
- Efficient task delegation
- More straightforward file sharing and accessing
- Easier integration of new team members
- Budget management
- Remote working
- Better productivity
Make sure to choose a good project management software because it will ensure that you collaborate effectively and ensure that all your projects are successful. Review a couple of them before you make a final decision.