Project Planning Steps to Create a Project From Start to Finish
Imagine getting a call from your company’s executives. They have recognized your hard work and have promoted you to the position of a manager. You are now responsible for the next key project and your bosses want you to come up with a working plan within a couple of weeks. What do you do?
Before you start worrying, take a step back and try to focus on the end goal. By looking at the bigger picture, you can come up with an effective method of completing all the necessary tasks. Even without any formal certification in project management, you can still successfully manage a project by learning from the project management guide or by applying a combination of technical and management skills, and by following an effective project planning process.
What is project planning?
Project planning is defined as the creation of a roadmap that the project team needs to follow. It contains the steps you’ll need to take to ensure the success of your project. A project planning process consists of the schedule, list of roles and responsibilities, a task list for the entire project, and finally a clear and concise project scope.
Why project planning is important?
Project planning is a crucial stage that comes right after initiation in project management phases. Through proper planning, you streamline the entire project into a series of steps and ensure the availability of all the resources on time.
All the constraints (time, scope, costs) are discussed in the project planning process, and mitigation plans are developed after the identification of potential risks. By comparing the actual progress with the project plan, you can also monitor the performance of your team and take the necessary steps to improve it.
Project planning steps to create a project from start to finish
Here are the 10 project planning steps for effective project plan
- Identify and meet all the stakeholders
- Create a project outline and define the direction
- Establish a scope statement
- Create and prioritize a list of tasks
- Link tasks and identify dependencies
- Define roles and responsibilities
- Create a project schedule and establish baselines
- Select important tools for effective management
- Identify potential risks and create a mitigation strategy
- Create an effective communication plan
1. Identify and meet all the stakeholders
Anyone who has an interest or an effect on your project is a stakeholder. As a project manager, it’s your job to manage stakeholders and communicate with them to understand their requirements.
Before making a project plan, the manager needs to meet with the key stakeholders like the client and the project sponsor to discuss their expectations and the benefits of the project.
Explain the project planning process to the stakeholders and ask all the important questions to gather as much data as possible. The more you know, the better your project plan will be. It is also a good practice to manage a stakeholder register that will help you in coming up with a communication plan.
2. Create a project outline and define the direction
Now that you have all the data you need, it’s time to set up a vision for your project. You’ll need to clarify what exactly you’ll need to achieve and develop an action plan to do it.
3. Establish a scope statement
The scope statement is the actual foundation on which the entire project depends. It precisely describes the main objectives of the project scope management and how it will solve a business problem. The scope statement also justifies the project and indicates the key milestones of the project.
Over the course of a project, the scope statement can be changed if the situation demands it. However, a project manager can’t just decide to change it. Once approved, the scope statement can only be changed after consultation with the project sponsor and clients.
4. Create and prioritize a list of tasks
A project plan is designed to direct all aspects of a particular project and having a comprehensive list of tasks can help you. The sheer volume of tasks can distract your team sometimes and steer them away from necessary elements that are critical for the project’s success.
To prevent this, you must identify and prioritize key tasks. With a clear task list and defined priorities, a project manager will be able to maintain control of the project and focus the team’s energy.
5. Link tasks and identify dependencies
Not all tasks can be started simultaneously as some new tasks may depend on the completion of the older ones. Identifying these tasks and coming up with a plan that includes these dependencies is also a job of the project manager. Modern project management software like Kissflow Projects can perform this job automatically for you and save your time and effort.
6. Define roles and responsibilities
A project is a team activity and everyone involved has some sort of a role to play in its success. The manager determines the roles and responsibilities among the project team members and these members are then held accountable for the aspects they are responsible for.
Apart from the project manager and team members, some important roles are of the project sponsors, business experts, clients, end-users, etc.
7. Create a project schedule and establish baselines
Now that you have identified all the tasks and assigned all the important roles to the members, it’s time to create a project schedule or timeline for your project.
To do that, you’ll need to estimate how long each task will take and calendarize the entire project. Remember to make realistic deadlines that your team will be able to complete. Otherwise, you’ll face many problems in the later stages of the project.
Establishing baselines to monitor the progress of the project is also important. By setting up clear criteria of success, you can ensure the quality and value of your final product.
8. Select important tools for effective management
Resource management is an important part of project management and managers now have a list of project management tools available to them. Since projects are no longer bound by location, using a project management tool like Kissflow Projects, which has cloud capabilities, is preferable. It allows users to access data and work from anywhere and on any platform.
With the right tools, managers can effectively collaborate with team members and enhance their productivity.
9. Identify potential risks and create a mitigation strategy
No matter how meticulous your project plan is, there will still be several risks that can negatively affect your progress. Your job is to identify those potential scenarios and come up with strategies that minimize their effect on the project. By creating an effective risk management plan, you can ensure that your project stays on track even if something goes wrong.
10. Create an effective communication plan
No one wants to see their mailbox filled with irrelevant emails. It wastes time and there is also a risk of missing out on important information. In the case of complex projects, this problem can have severe consequences. A way to avoid this problem is to come up with a proper communication plan that establishes the frequency, format and the media of the reports and escalations.
Planning a project is not a simple task and proper planning requires a lot of time and effort. With great planning, you can ensure your project’s success and boost your team’s confidence which will help them perform even better.