Planning.  Some of us thrive on this and some of us cringe at the thought of it.  Which are you?  For me, it depends on how busy I am and what my frustration level is at the moment.  But there’s no question that the planning phase of the project is essential and without it your project is going to be a mess.  So we know we must roll up our sleeves, put the proper planning tasks in the project schedule and share that schedule with our team through a tool like Seavus Project Viewer, and move on.

The core function of the project manager during the planning phase is to plan and provide a roadmap for the project. Proper planning is the cornerstone of a successful project, while improper planning is often the primary cause of a failed project. There are a few important steps that are part of planning a good project.

The primary focus of project planning is to identify the following:

  • What needs to be done?
  • How complex is the project?
  • When it will be done?
  • How will it be done?
  • Who will be responsible for each task?
  • What types of deliverables will be needed?
  • What skillsets and quantity of resources are needed?
  • How much will the project cost?

Early project planning brings relevant issues, points of disagreement, assumptions, and risks to the table in order that they are resolved immediately. Because plans are established early on in the project, the project manager will face many unknowns and must deal with them accordingly. These assumptions are always documented as part of the plan. Later on, as the assumptions are resolved, the plan can be modified appropriately.

Planning relies on three critical elements: (1) good input, (2) good planning, and (3) proper allocation of needed resources. For the project manager, planning is about deciding which activities have to take place and when, as well as allocating resources to allow the meeting of deadlines. Can you imagine a project being planned without any prior specifications and blueprints? I doubt that would be a project that any of us would willingly take on.

It is essential that a considerable amount of time be spent planning a project. It is extremely likely that the project manager will be required to double-check the project planning in order to reflect last-minute changes and unforeseen circumstances taking shape on the project. A project manager can quickly determine how difficult a task he or she will face based on the results of the initial planning.

This article was derived, in part, from Charvat’s book entitled, “Project Management Nation.”