According to the PMI, project planning is a procedure that involves the strategic management of the processes related to the project, generally known as “Knowledge Areas”. Consider project planning as the process of building the project’s navigation map which will guide you step by step through all the areas of interest, showing you the right path to a successful project.
Project Planning Process
The process of creating your project plan components is essential to each project and is a procedure that may be performed several times through the life cycle of a project. But, what are the key components of a project plan? In simple words, they are the combination of the Core and the Facilitating processes of a project, all of which are focused on the development of a consistent, coherent document that includes all the tasks that need to be executed throughout the project’s phases.
Key Project Management Plan Components
Core processes are usually interrelated and intertwined with each other and need to be performed in the same order on the majority of projects. They include three essential procedures for developing the project plan:
- Planning and Defining the Scope: The first thing to do is to develop a clear scope statement as the project’s foundation. The whole project will be built upon this and after that you can subdivide the major project objectives into clear and manageable deliverables.
- Developing the Schedule: This requires a series of several procedures in order to create the project schedule that involves: Identifying and cataloguing the activities that must be performed to produce the various project deliverables, analyzing the sequence of activities and documenting any interactivity dependencies. Estimating all the work periods needed and how long it will take to complete individual activities. It is also useful to design a Milestone List, which lists the most important deliverables as way points, which will help you to evaluate the progress of a project.
- Resource Planning: This includes the determination of resources (people, equipment, materials, etc.) and the quantities necessary to carry out the project activities, the development of a cost approximation of the resources required to complete the project and the cost budgeting and the allocation of the overall cost estimation to individual work packages.
The facilitating processes, are general interactions among the planning processes that are dependent on the nature of each project. Although these processes are performed intermittently and in no particular sequence during project planning and execution, they are not optional and include six additional components of a project plan:
- Quality planning: You should identify the quality standards relevant to the project and determine how to achieve them.
- Organizational Planning – WBS (Work Breakdown Structure): Here, you should identify, document and assign project roles and responsibilities among the staff and set the reporting relations. The next step is Staff Acquisition, or getting the needed human resources assigned to and working on the project. A useful tip is to form clear and manageable work packages that correspond to the individual work performed by each of the staff and create a document which will serve as a reference point for managing project progress.
- Setting a Communications plan: This involves configuring the information and communications needs of all the stakeholders (who needs what information, when will they need it and how they will get it).
- Risk Management Planning, is one of the most important components of a project plan and decides the approach and plan for risk management in a project. In other words, it is the safety net of each project and involves the following processes: Identifying key risks likely to affect the project and documenting the characteristics of each. Performing a Qualitative Risk Analysis of the project’s risks and conditions in order to prioritize their effects on the project objectives. Running a Quantitative Risk Analysis, measuring the probability and impact of each of the risks and estimating their impact on the project’s objectives. Develop a Risk Response Plan, building up a mechanism to strengthen contingencies and reduce any threats to the project’s objectives from risk.
- Procurement Planning: Defining what to procure, how much to procure and when.
- Solicitation Planning: Documenting product requirements and identifying potential sources.
All the project management plan components listed above are to be gathered together to form a cohesive and coherent document that includes all the phases of the life cycle of the project. Hence, it is essential to share this document with all the stakeholders of the project, to read through it, communicate any unclear points, exchange opinions, negotiate and make all the necessary alterations so as to share a finalized version with all involved.
Once your project plan is complete, the document can be used to resolve issues and identify your progress as the project moves forward. In other words, a good plan is essential for delivering a successful project.