Given the high rate of project failures, you might think that companies would be happy to just have their project finish with some degree of success.

That’s not the case.

Despite the odds, organizations expect projects to be completed faster, cheaper, and better.

The only way that these objectives can be met is through the use of effective project management processes and planning techniques.

This list outlines the major phases of managing a project and discusses key steps for each one.


1: Plan the work by utilizing a project definition document

Plan the work by utilizing a project definition

There is a tendency for IT infrastructure projects to shortchange the planning process, with an emphasis on jumping right in and beginning the work.

This is a mistake.

The time spent properly planning the project will result in reduced cost and duration and increased quality over the life of the project.

The project definition is the primary deliverable from the planning process and describes all aspects of the project at a high level.

Once approved by the customer and relevant stakeholders, it becomes the basis for the work to be performed.

For example, in planning an Exchange migration, the project definition should include the following:

  • Project overview: Why is the Exchange migration taking place? What are the business drivers? What are the business benefits?
  • Objectives: What will be accomplished by the migration? What do you hope to achieve?
  • Scope: What features of Exchange will be implemented? Which departments will be converted? What is specifically out of scope?
  • Assumptions and risks: What events are you taking for granted (assumptions), and what events are you concerned about? Will the right hardware and infrastructure be in place? Do you have enough storage and network capacity?
  • Approach: How will the migration project unfold and proceed?
  • Organization: Show the significant roles on the project. Identifying the project manager is easy, but who is the sponsor? It might be the CIO for a project like this. Who is on the project team? Are any of the stakeholders represented?
  • Signature page: Ask the sponsor and key stakeholders to approve this document, signifying that they agree on what is planned.
  • Initial effort, cost, and duration estimates: These should start as best-guess estimates and then be revised, if necessary, when the workplan is completed.


2: Create a planning horizon

After the project definition has been prepared, the workplan can be created.

The workplan provides the step-by-step instructions for constructing project deliverables and managing the project.

You should use a prior workplan from a similar project as a model, if one exists.

If not, build one the old-fashioned way by utilizing a work-breakdown structure and network diagram.

Create a detailed workplan, including assigning resources and estimating the work as far out as you feel comfortable.

This is your planning horizon. Past the planning horizon, lay out the project at a higher level, reflecting the increased level of uncertainty. The planning horizon will move forward as the project progresses. High-level activities that were initially vague need to be defined in more detail as their timeframe gets closer.

Read the entire article here.  (Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.)

An article written by Tom Mochal on Tech Republic.