The success of any project is largely dependent on how well the team can hit its goals. This requires clear project planning. A good plan outlines project objectives, provides a framework for the work, and identifies key dates in order to make the project happen on time.
During the project planning phase, it’s important to identify stakeholders up front and ensure they have a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities within the project. This is also the perfect opportunity to set clear expectations and ensure everyone is on the same page about what needs to be done.
As part of the project planning process, a team must estimate how long it will take to complete each task. This information helps create a schedule and is used to help measure progress and set up progress reports. The duration of each task is based on a number of factors, including the individual team members’ availability, the size and complexity of each task, and other external factors such as supply chain delays or weather challenges. It is also helpful to determine a limiting resource at this point, as this can be used to help with staffing and budgeting.
Another critical element of the project planning phase is identifying the underlying desired benefits for each stakeholder, as these will serve as a guide for creating and delivering the project’s deliverables. It is also helpful to understand the strengths and weaknesses of previous projects and use these as a benchmark for current endeavors.
Lastly, it’s important to set realistic deadlines and identify dependencies. These can include simple logical dependencies such as the fact that digging a foundation trench is needed before the foundation can be built (and vice versa). In addition, it’s important to consider the complexity of each task and any resourcing requirements. For example, a complex task may require additional outside support or training to be completed on time.
Finally, it’s important to be flexible and keep in mind that no project plan is a static document. Stakeholders’ needs and expectations will inevitably change throughout the course of the project, and it is helpful to establish a formal change management process that allows for changes to be made and documented in a controlled manner. This will also help reduce confusion and miscommunication, both of which can derail projects. If possible, it is also helpful to perform the riskiest tasks early on in the project to mitigate any potential problems before they occur. This will help provide a buffer in case something unexpected comes up and gives the project team more time to respond.