Processes and tools
Processes and tools
Aug 07, 2021 3 min read
In this article, we are going to look at the most important aspects of project planning. But before we get to the actual plan strategy, let’s first define what a project plan is and why it is important.
A project management plan is a document prepared by the project manager which helps to guide the project, encourage communication in the team, assess risks, and manage resources and the scope. Such plans can be detailed or brief. Very important to note that it must be prepared before the actual development starts.
This plan is important, first of all, because it helps not to fail the project and to deliver the product on time. With the help of this plan, everybody will have a clear vision and understanding of the priorities.
In brief, each project management plan should answer four questions:
After you have answered the questions above it's time to prepare a more detailed plan that should include aspects listed below.
It is important to know all people involved in the project and the people who will be taking part in communication. Let them know that you are going to design a document that they will have to review and approve.
Everybody should understand each other's role in the project. It will make communication easier and eliminate misunderstandings. At some projects, one person can have a few roles or vise versa the same role can be held by a couple of people.
It’s vital to bring up all stakeholders together and discuss with them important questions that must be prepared in advance. The conversation should touch on budget, expectations, timeline, etc.
After the kickoff meeting having more information, you will have to describe the scope of tasks and the timeline for the project, and each phase in particular. Another important thing to plan is the budget and resources planning for this budget.
When the scope is defined it should be broken down into clear and comprehensive tasks, arranged by priorities and dependencies.
It is a bad practice to develop a product without any revisions and assessments. The faster issues or inconsistencies are found - the better. For this reason, make a rule to review deliverables. A deliverable can be reviewed at the end of a phase or a milestone.
It's a good idea to visualize project phases with milestones, resources, and time needed. Such visualizations can distinctively show dependencies of product parts and resources. Gantt charts are very helpful if you need to represent information this way.
Many projects fail because they plan as if all will be ideal. However, it’s usually an exception that everything will go as planned. Therefore risks should be taken into account. What types of risk can happen and how do deal with them? For, example, an estimation for implementation can be wrong because an unexpected complication was not taken into account. How can we prevent this risk? Well, we can use a strategy with optimistic, pessimistic and realistic estimations.
Another risk can be a lack of resources when someone from a team gets sick and can’t work. We should have a plan B for such a situation. It's worth discussing a strategy with your team in advance.
When the document is ready, distribute it among the team, so everyone can read it. Then make a session, where you will discuss questions or remarks about the plan. Only when everybody is on the same page you can proceed to actual plan implementation.
The project management plan is not something created once and can be then forgotten. From time to time you will need to return to it and check if everything goes as planned. If you see that something goes not as planned, communicate it with stakeholders as soon as possible and be ready to provide solutions of how to resolve the situation.
You see that writing a project management plan is not so easy, however doable. This is the very first step at the beginning of the project and a very important one. Do not neglect it.
During the project make important notes for yourself in the future, so the next time you need to make a project management plan again, you have more experience and insights.
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