What is project planning? The essential basics of project management

Wooden tower with a green background

We don’t want to sound too obvious, but what is a project/goal without a plan? Yes, that’s right! It’s just a dream.

This short statement showcases project planning in a nutshell. In our case, this “plan” includes more than just a sequence of tasks, but also the assignees, deadlines, and deliverables. All that comes down to what a project manager chooses to present to the stakeholders in the project plan.

A quality project plan is usually described as a thought process, the main goal of which is to put the project on the track to success. Therefore, various project planning tools exist to assist managers in their work.

In this article, we will tell you exactly how to create a project plan that will satisfy both stakeholders as well as the team of yours.

To achieve success, we recommend following these steps:

  1. Establish the stakeholders’ expectations
  2. Define and prioritize your goals
  3. Calculate the expected outcomes
  4. Create a clear and concise project schedule
  5. Determine possible mishaps, their likelihood, consequences, as well as the way to fight them

1. Establish the stakeholders’ expectations

The first one of your project management steps is actually a long talk with your stakeholders. The stakeholders are identified as people, who are most concerned with the end results of your project.

People sitting at the table talking

The first time you meet them, you will have to define the exact expectations of your team’s future effort and try to put it in the project scope, figure the timing and budget. Once you find some sort of common ground, an official project scope document has to be created. It will serve as an outline of what tasks will you and your team encounter while working on the project.

It’s important not to limit your mind and vision of the future project just to the stakeholders’ expectations. Take your own experience into account, check out the latest trends, and essentially consult your team. This way you will develop the most open-minded and progressive scope ever.

2. Define and prioritize your goals

At this point, you decide who and how does what and when. Your task is to take into account the previously established scope and distribute it to your team accordingly.

A board with green stickers

Task manager tools usually allow their users to prioritize the given tasks by setting a special status to it, change color or symbols. The priority of a task is derived from the expected due date. The closer the date, the more important it is to get it over with.

Different task managers and other project planning tools provide different features. Both style and symbols may vary as well as the overall functionality. Some managers and companies go for software developers to delegate the project with the most specific and custom features. Devurai is known for providing this kind of service, so if you are eager to have some software made just for YOUR project, click on the button below.

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3. Calculate the expected outcomes

Every manager, who really knows how to develop a project plan, understands how important it is to set specific milestones and due dates. It’s crucial to define deliverables with as much detail, as possible. 

The final deliverable is like a puzzle. It consists of many pieces- tasks- which, if described with enough information, make the end result more clear and predictable.

Some dashboard software also give project managers an opportunity to attach files to the assigned tasks, so your team can be guided to the result expected by both you and the stakeholders.

Measure and keep track of your plan with KPIs. Research the most efficient ways to determine the task’s outcomes and delegate the process with the help of specific matrics, that will fit just fine in your plan.

4. Create a clear and concise project schedule

Now, when most project planning steps have been completed, you will have to pull it all together into one schedule. At this point, you understand what and when do project stakeholders expect to see, as well as the whole process and sequence of tasks that will contribute to the end result. 

A pink calendar with events

While pulling all the previous research together in a schedule, establish the exact deadline, the assignee, the samples in one chart. It can be one of many available online both free and paid to use. But it can also be a special custom one, developed just for your business. 

Don’t be afraid to talk to your team and build the schedule together. Ask their opinion on the deadlines and discuss the wanted deliverables to shape everyone’s mind into one well-oiled machine.

5. Determine possible mishaps, their likelihood, consequences, as well as the way to fight them

The last step of any plan is, of course, risk assignment. Take a look at your schedule, your team, your industry, and so on. Ask yourself a question: What could possibly go wrong?

What if one of your assignees has a birthday just before the crucial to the project deadlines? Should you shift the responsibility for these tasks to someone else? Of course, it’s just a silly example, but any tiny miscalculation can create great problems for your future project.

Determining the possible risks is one of the project management basics. If you find any holes in your plan, think of the possible ways of avoiding the problem or at least minimizing the risk.

Consider giving more priority to the high-risk tasks, so there will be time to deal with the possible failure.

How to make a project happen?

Having a good project plan is great, but it doesn’t guarantee success straight away. After finishing the project planning, you will hop on the next of the project management steps- realization. 

First, you’ll have to reach an agreement with the stakeholders about the plan of yours. Make it as clear, concise, and straightforward as possible. If your presentation doesn’t align with the expectations, be ready to implement any changes to the plan.

If you achieve the stakeholders’ blessing, then good for you! Keep everyone well informed about the progress, communicate with your team, and guide them to the most efficient results. From this point forward, keep track of the KPI’s and the overall flow of work and you WILL get the best end results.

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