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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The 5 Steps To Planning Your Project:

METHOD 123: empowering managers to succeed

Ready. Fire. Aim! That's the way we may feel at times when eager stakeholders are ready to get things moving on their project. Everyone is excited about the new project and wants to dive right in. However, it's no surprise that projects that are carefully planned from the beginning have a higher rate of success than those that are not properly planned.

The good news is that there are things you can do as a project manager to ensure proper planning occurs on your projects. Simply communicate to your eager stakeholders that work will begin as soon as the planning is complete. To help you communicate this planning process, here's:

The 5 Steps to Planning Your Project

Creating a project plan is the first thing you should do before taking on any kind of project. Follow these 5 steps to put your project plan together...

Step 1: Define the Project Goals
The first thing you need to do is define the project goals. These goals are the very reason or purpose that this project is being contemplated. How do you do this? The best way is to conduct interviews with any and all stakeholders that have an interest in this project succeeding. Focus on their true needs that will create real benefit and value once the project comes to completion. This will result in a long list and there's no way you will make everybody happy. Take some time to prioritize the goals so the most important ones are worked on first.

Step 2: Identify Project Deliverables
You now have a prioritized list of goals in hand that this project must meet. The next step is to identify the deliverables necessary to meet these goals. These deliverables could be something as tangible as opening a new facility or as intangible as improving training for the call center. Identifying as many deliverables as possible will create the basis for your Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

Step 3: Determine Who Will Do the Work
The next step in the project planning process is to determine who will do the work. This becomes easier to define now that you have the deliverables identified. There's a logical path to follow as the ownership of deliverables is usually self-evident. For example, you know the training department will be responsible for creating user manuals and the IT department will be responsible for upgrading everyone's hardware. You can then get down to an individual resource level as the plan progresses.

Step 4: Establish a Project Schedule
Now that you know the goals of the project, what needs to be done, and who will be doing the work it becomes a simple matter to assemble a project schedule. The best way to do this is sit down with the owners of the deliverables and explain to them clearly what must be accomplished. Obtain their feedback for how long each deliverable will take and when they feel the work can begin. It is unlikely at this point that the schedule will work out perfectly, but this will serve as a starting point for negotiations around deadlines, resources, and scope.

Step 5: Create Supporting Documentation
There are literally dozens of supporting plans that can augment the project plan. You can determine how much or how little of that documentation you want to pull together based upon the complexity or visibility of the project. But, there are a handful of supporting documents that you will always want to include in your project planning process. These are:

  • Communications Plan - This plan determines how everyone will be communicated with as it relates to project status. This includes how the weekly progress report meetings will be conducted, how escalations will be handled, and which stakeholders need to know which information throughout the life of the project.
  • Risk Management Plan - This plan identifies those things that have the possibility of going wrong on a project and turning into big issues that could knock it off track. Be sure to include not only the risk, but also what is being done to mitigate the risk.
  • Change Management Plan - There is almost a 100% guarantee that something is going to change on your project. Be sure to have a process in place that acknowledges the fact that change will occur.

Following the 5 Steps to Planning Your Project above will change "Ready, Fire, Aim" to "Ready, Aim, Fire" and help you get more done in less time!

Once your project plan is ready to go, use Project Software to quickly build detailed plans for your project and set milestones to track your progress. can help!

How to Plan Your Project

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