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30 October 2020

5 Essentials of Project Planning

As a business owner, we’re most concerned about output. Unless we’re certain about output, it’s extremely challenging to manage a budget, resources, and other things. Planning keeps us focused, goal-oriented, and decisive. This is more crucial when we plan bigger projects as a lot is at stake 


 So let’s learn how to plan projects. 


 There are 5 essential stages of project management. 


 1. Planning 

 2. Project deliverables

 3. Process deliverables 

 4. Additional elements

Project planning 


 Planning is the foremost and most crucial part of project management. The more time you will spend on planning; the more headaches you will prevent in the future. 


 During the planning phase, you will work on deliverables and factors like costs, duration, resources, change management, and more. We will discuss each of these factors one after another. 


 So let’s start with project deliverables. 


 Project deliverables 


 As we put in the beginning, all projects have an output. While planning, all output should be documented. These outputs should be delivered on time to reach the goal of the project. 


 A project deliverable is defined as - 


. As a tangible output created as a result of work completed during the project.

 Within the scope of the project.

· Agreed with stakeholders (internal or external).

· Has a role in reaching the objectives of the project.


Project deliverables work as short-term goals to keep teams on track and work towards the bigger organizational goal. Any difficulties in reaching project deliverables will also highlight inefficiencies in teams and/or organizations and provide a better view of processes. 


Project deliverables should be created after gathering requirements from stakeholders. They should be documented and planned before any work begins. To create project deliverables, you must consider the goals of your project. 


 What is this project trying to achieve?

· What output is needed by stakeholders once the project closes?

· Can this output be broken down into smaller parts?

· How important is each part of the overall project?

· How will we create each part/outcome?

Once you have the above questions answered, move to gather requirements from stakeholders. These requirements must be within scope, budget, and assigned resources of the project. Keeping the requirements and objectives in mind, breakdown deliverables into smaller chunks of work and decide what’s required to achieve each deliverable. 



When you have nailed down the deliverables, here are a few more things worth exploring. 


· Who needs to approve each deliverable?

· What will make this deliverable a success for stakeholders?

· What is the desired quality standard for the deliverable?

· Has a team created similar deliverables in the past? If so, what can you learn from their experiences?

· How will we track progress towards each deliverable?

Process planning 


The next phase is process planning, which is again a critical part of project planning.  It is essentially breaking down deliverables into a process and a defined workflow and assigning responsibilities to incumbents. 

Work breakdown structure (WBS), Gantt chart, and RACI matrix are major tools for process planning. Let’s discuss each tool in detail. 


Work breakdown structure is an outline of project deliverables and the work required to complete the deliverables.  

Work breakdown structure 

As explained in the previous part, the list of deliverables is broken down into smaller and manageable tasks. By creating WBS, you ensure that no element of the project is left during the planning phase. 


Gantt Charts 

Gantt chart is a visual presentation of the timeline of deliverables. It represents the following details. 


· The start and end date of a project

· Project tasks

· Task owners

· Length of tasks

· Task interdependencies.


RACI Matrix 


RACI matrix is used to define the responsibilities of tasks. Each task is defined in terms of the following parameters. 


 R (Responsible): People who are responsible for completing tasks 

 A (Accountable): People who ensure that the task is completed within the stipulated time.  

 C (Consulted): People who advise before, during, and after a task is completed. 

 I (Informed): People who need to be kept aware of the progress of the task. 

 Additional factors to consider during the planning 


 While the above points cover the major tasks in project planning, the following additional points should be considered during planning. 

  1. Costs 

Allocate a budget to each task.  


  1. Time 


Each task/ deliverable should be completed within a fixed timeframe. During planning, assign a time frame within which the tasks should be completed. 


  1. Scope 

 Scope means work. In the planning part, define the scope including tasks and timeline, to avoid confusion in teams.  

  1. Communication 

 Miscommunication can delay and even sabotage projects. So defining how communication will occur will be a game changer in the entire project planning process.

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