Effective project planning gives your project a better chance for success as you have a clear path to move forward based on knowledge and experience (either your own or from those around you).
How to plan for a project
There’s a lot of knowledge and information available on project planning across multiple different project methodologies. We want to look at the steps and approaches you take to perform the project planning function.
Ultimately, the outcome of planning is to actually have a plan! To have a plan we need to know:
- What needs to happen?
- Who needs to do it?
- When does it need to be done by, or when can it be done by?
As a project manager you might not know the answers at the start, but it’s your job to find them.
What do I need to do to manage a successful project?
By the time you’re assigned to work on a project, generally other people have been involved in doing a business case for it, discussing the requirements/needs, selling the project internally etc. Engaging with whoever those people are would be the best place to start searching for the answers to the key project planning questions (above). For example, if your company provides services to clients, the salesperson responsible for selling the project will be able to give you all of the information around what was sold.
What resources do I need for my project?
Once you’ve figured out the ‘what’ in terms of high-level tasks required, you need to start looking at the who. For example, if one of your high-level tasks is to review business processes and provide recommendations for improving them, then you need a business consultant or process specialist.
To access resources, your company (or the client if they’re providing resources), will have someone in charge of project resources who can then allocate that resource type to you. Key individuals who designed the solution, or sale of the project (whether it’s a technical solution of a service) will be great at helping you understand what and who is required.
How long should my project take?
This is hopefully an easier exercise to do, although experience will teach you that the answer may not be the easiest thing to tell your project sponsors!
For most projects, whoever sold or designed the project will also be able to guide you here. The project sponsors may have a set date in mind by when the project needs to be delivered, which will usually be aligned to your business’s current strategic drivers. It’s your job as a project manager to review either of these, challenge the dates if you foresee an issue, and to help realistically plan deadlines that can be met. Remember to use the resources you now have allocated to assist you, as they are the experts in their field. For example, if you have a task to analyse 50 pages of data, ask the analyst how long it will take. Make sure to double check what can be done in parallel, and what has to be done sequentially so you don’t get your timelines wrong!
PPM software for project planning
Using PPM software for project planning can help you to organise your work and track its progress. Stay on top of who’s doing what and by when, along with your complete financials and reporting capabilities with one intuitive solution – Fluid. Using Fluid for your project planning stages allows you to collaborate more effectively with the key stakeholders of a project and ensure there is complete visibility throughout. Fluid also allows you to stay on the right track and save time by making sure everybody’s on board from the start. Drop us a message to have a chat and learn how we can help you.