A project is an activity or effort that make to create a unique product/ service or to modify an existing product/ service. The project has a start date and end date. Perhaps the project done to handle an existing problem by giving new method that solve the problem.
And the project planning is a process of some steps to how to state and complete the project within a specific timeframe. Also, the project planning process is a major step in project management process. When you document the project plan and determine the project outcomes and resources, then you are in the project planning process/ step.
As you read in the previous paragraph, planning the project is a very important step, because in this step you will know where your project goes. So, to make an effective plan for your project follow these eight major steps:
- First step: define your project goals and predicted outcomes and determine the value of your project. These are important to get an initial buy-in from your clients to start in your project.
- Second step: list your project goals and these goals must be connected to your client’s requirements. So that, build out your project structure, project’s milestones, and the project tasks to reach client’s goals and requirements. Keep in mind that your project goals should be clear and clearly defined.
- Third step: create a project scope document which provide details about project elements that focused in the previous step.
- Fourth step: use Gantt chart to help you to visualize you project timeline. A Gantt chart is an interactive timeline tool that provide you with a complete view of progress, work scope and dependencies for your project.
- Fifth step: define roles, resource and responsibilities. In your project the resource means that the people who work in your project, the money needed or the equipment needed for the project.
- Sixth step: grouping all project pieces like assets, reporting, tasks, update and any related document into one place. You can use a collaboration tool for this step to ensure that everyone working on a project can tracking these project pieces.
- Seventh step: identify potential issues that can happen within the project process and make your team ready for any risks can happen within the project process.
- Eighth step: set a quick meeting to review all previous steps with your team.
There are six major phase or steps to prepare a project and plan for it:
- First phase/ step: Project Definition
Definition the project is the first step where the project manager makes sure that the project goals, objectives, resources, tasks, budget, risks, issues are all clearly defined.
- Second phase/ step: Project Initiation
Initiation project is the second sage and the business case is done to ensure if the project is feasible and if the project should undertake. The business case is very important to get the green light from your client to start the project.
- Third phase/ step: Project Planning
Planning project is a very important step for any successful project. Planning step usually start to define goals by two methods which are SMART and CLEAR.
- Fourth phase/ step: Project Execution
Execution project is the fourth step when the project outcomes are developed and completed. In project execution phase, your project team involved by their responsibilities. Tasks that executed at this phase include update project schedule, develop team, assign resources and many other tasks.
- Fifth phase/ step: Project Monitoring & Control
Phase number five is monitoring the project and control it. Project monitoring phase is about measure the progression of the project and if everything happened align with project business case. Many project managers use a tool to monitor and control the project which the tool called KPI (Key Project Indicator).
- Sixth phase/ step: Project Closure
Phase six is about project closure where the project manager should be ensuring that the project is closed properly. Closing the project is important to ensure about completing the project. Non-closed project will continue consume resources with no benefits. At the final step the final project report completed and record good and bad points within running the project.
You read some information about the project planning step in the previous paragraph and in this paragraph, you will be more detailed with the project planning step. Firstly, the project planning is a step of many steps in project management process. A successful key for any project is the good planning for the project. Planning the project step is about the goals and measure these goals by using S.M.A.R.T. and C.L.E.A.R. methods.
S.M.A.R.T. method: this method helps the project manager to ensure that the defined goals are correctly vetted.
S/ Specific: the specific goals are those goals that answers the 5Ws questions (who, what, when, where, which and why)
M/ Measurable: you can measure the project goals by create criteria that measure the success of your goals.
A/ Attainable: attainable goals are those important goals and how can you achieve these important goals.
R/ Realistic: realistic goals are those goals that you are ready and able to work with them.
T/ Timely: timely goals are those goals that can be achieved at specific time.
C.L.E.A.R. method: this is a newer method that used for setting the project goals. As a project manager you can consider this method in your business as follow:
C/ Collaborative: collaborative goals should encourage project team to work with each other.
L/ Limited: to keep goals manageable you should limit these goals by scope and time.
E/ Emotional: to improve the quality of work, the goals should be in the passion of employees.
A/ Appreciable: appreciate goals by breaking larger goals into smaller goals to achieve these smaller goals quickly.
R/ Refinable: means the goals should be flexible and refinable when a new situation arises.
Now, you know how can you plan for any project at general. But when you work with a big project, you need a team to plan for this big project. Planning for a big project can done as follow:
- Establish the right expectations by two ways: firstly, define your plan goals and the plan outcomes. Secondly, give a clear explanation about what does the team trying to achieve according to the plan?
- Set the time schedule for team communication recurrent meetings to discuss about the project plan.
- Like any project define the potential risks in the project plan. And also, try to plan your response with expected risks in a project plan.
- Breaking your project activities in the project plan into smaller milestones will increase the project efficiency.
- Establishing many communication channels for the project team according to each type of issues. This is a good step when working with a team and will make the project execution easiest.
- Define the best environment for your team work. A suitable workplace is important especially for big project and make better about the project impact.
When you sure that you do all of these steps for your project and your team, means you do all your best to make the project success and get the project goals and outcomes.