Article Overview 

There's an old saying, "If you fail to plan then you are planning to fail." Even though it sounds a little cliché, it is true in all aspects of life.

Table of Contents

  1. Stakeholder Analysis 
  2. Define Project Scope 
  3. Set and Prioritize Goals 
  4. Identify Project Deliverables 
  5. Define Roles and Responsibilities
  6. Create a Project Schedule and Work Plan
  7. Conduct Risk Assessment 
  8. Review and Communicate the Business Plan

If you don't strategize before you start anything, it's going to be disadvantageous for you. Every single project, without any regards to its field, needs a workflow. A plan which will help it execute properly. The biggest problem is, your lack of planning might create a situation, which is difficult to escape.

How can you avoid that?

You need strategies and planning for every single step of your project. So, here's the beginner's guide to planning your project.

Stakeholder Analysis

Before we jump into stakeholder analysis, we need to understand what stakeholders are. Stakeholders comprise each and every person who is directly or indirectly related to the project. This technique will help you get familiarized with all the people working on the project. There are various steps to carry out a stakeholder analysis.

The image below shows a stakeholder analysis matrix. 

Stakeholder analysis matrix

How can you carry out a stakeholder analysis?

  1. Identify all of your Stakeholders. These people comprise every team or person working on your project.
  2. Now that you have a list you need to determine and document the needs of all these stakeholders.
  3.  After that, you need to assess and analyze each stakeholder's influence on your project.
  4. Once you have an idea about the expectations of stakeholders you need to segregate them in the matrix given above.
  5. Take action, review the status of stakeholders, and repeat the same process again.

Define Project Scope

Project scope is a technique to determine important aspects of the project like the goals you want to achieve from the project, deliverables, features of your project, different functions and tasks that need to be done, deadline to achieve them, and cost.

There are various aspects that will help you define the project scope.

  1. The very first thing is you need to determine the requirements of a product. For example, if you are building a website, the features and pages you require will be product requirements for that project.
  2. After that determine the requirements of the complete process you are going through to achieve the goals of your project.
  3. The biggest factor is, you need to identify the limitations of your product. You need to document the things that will not be done in the project. If there are any last-minute changes it may affect your financial planning for the same.

Set and Prioritize Goals

While setting the goals you need to make sure that they are SMART goals.

  1. The "S" in SMART stands for Specific. You need to be very specific with your goals. Your goals need to be clear and well defined.
  2. "M" stands for Measurable. You need specific criteria with which you are planning to measure your progress towards your goals.
  3. "A" stands for Achievable. It means your goals need to be possible to achieve.
  4. "R" stands for Realistic. Your goals should be realistic and you should not overestimate the scope.
  5.  "T" stands for Timely. Timing is crucial in the case of any project. You need a clearly defined deadline to complete every goal.

SMART goals

Identify Project Deliverables

Every team needs to be assigned with some tasks and those tasks are defined by the project manager. One of the most crucial steps while planning a project is to assign this role. You can use the Work breakdown structure for the same. Work breakdown structure is a method for getting highly complex projects done by dividing them into smaller parts and assigning them to different teams.

Work breakdown structure

For example, if you have a project which comprises hardware and software you break it down into two parts and assign the hardware part to one team and software part to others. This is a very basic example. However, there are various other ways to breakdown the work between different teams.

Define Roles and Responsibilities

Once you have broken down the work structure you need to assign different roles and responsibilities to the people on your team.]For example, if you have to design an e-commerce website, you can assign one of the team members to design the product display page, one person can set up the payment page, and so on.

Create a Project Schedule and Work Plan

This is one of the most important steps while you are planning a project. You need to design a workflow, which means that some tasks need to be performed before the others.

For example, if you have a hardware and software combined project sometimes it's not possible to program before the completion of the hardware's setups. So, designing hardware first and then going for the software design will be your workflow.

You need to set strict deadlines for the projects as well. It is important that you are sticking to a timeline throughout the process.

Conduct Risk Assessment

You always need to know the risks which can arise throughout the project or afterward. You need to determine the following factors before you start the project:

  1. Identify everything that can cause potential harm or hazards to your project.
  2. Decide which aspect of the project might be harmed and in what sense.
  3.  Analyze these risks and take proper actions to avoid them.
  4.  Document all this research.

Review and Communicate the Business Plan

You need to design and define a communication plan for all your actions. A communication plan refers to a policy-driven approach to convey information to your stakeholders.

Strategic communication plan

This plan will determine what information should be delivered to the stakeholder and what communication channel should be used for this communication. A communication plan majorly includes a glossary of terms that will be used throughout the project.

This glossary might also include templates, reports, and forms that are used during the communication. As a planner, you need to take care of two aspects the most. First is time and finances. These things can affect the overall performance of your process.

Make sure that you document every step properly with all the details. The most important part is creating a team with people experienced and enthusiastic about the job. If you have a great team your planning will certainly be followed.