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Project Management Guide – Basics of Project Planning

Project Management Guide – Basics of Project Planning

Project management has been quite enriching career for many project management experts. And interestingly, many of them believe they became project manager by accident. But today, quite a few under-graduates, post graduate and industry professionals are making the choice consciously to become a project manager or project management professionals.

So, what does it take to be the project manager: someone will think in in terms of passion-calling, salary, academic background or career progression or someone even think about project management software. But before you jump in for any conclusion, let’s try to understand what all activities a project manager performs. Project management is like a huge canvas, but let me present a basic guide for a beginner to understand project management and project planning.

Please click on the links underneath this image as you hover the mouse and navigate to respective area of project planning

Project Management Guide - Elements of Project Planning

Project Planning Overview

In this first part of project planning, let’s get an overview of project planning, why it is required, when project actually starts is it project charter or project schedule? To the contrary of popular misconception; and it is indeed important to understand that project planning is not about task schedule. This part gives you the glimpse of what all activities project planning process should cover.

Back To Basics – Project Planning (Part-I)

Back To Basics – Project Planning (Part-I)

Project Scope Planning

More often than not, project scope is never readily available. It is in fact good for the project manager and the project team. How can one sign up for delivery when stakeholders have not defined the outcome/delivery boundaries? This is a crucial phase of a project where one can’t go wrong. If you go wrong here, it becomes very difficult for the project team to deliver as per undefined or loosely defined project scope. Seasoned project manager is careful, mindful before signing a project scope document.

Back To Basics: Project Planning : Project Scope Management

Back To Basics – Project Planning : Project Scope Management

Project Schedule Planning

Here comes the most popular part of the project management process. Newbie project manager things this is the only and the most important part of project management. Though not entirely true, project scheduling plan is important. Some organizations have specific people, designation called project scheduler or project planner to take care of project scheduling process. It involves taking into account deliverables, milestones, task schedules, dependencies, resources, cost, baseline, critical path, Gantt chart, etc.

Back To Basics – Project Planning – Project Delivery Schedule (Part-III)

Back To Basics – Project Planning – Project Delivery Schedule (Part-III)

Project Resource Planning

Project resource planning is one critical area where most of the project managers struggles. Most project managers spend countless hours in deploying, re-deploying, relocating, assigning, un-assigning resources to projects, activities. Though it is not common, many organizations have Resource Manager role to take care of project resource planning. Enterprise organizations have large programs and resources are typically assigned/re-assigned within programs.

Back To Basics – Project Planning (Part-IV): Resource Planning

Back To Basics – Project Planning (Part-IV): Resource Planning

Project Cost Planning

Money Money Money. Words speak about this process is about. You will find that a project may get approved without actual resources or in absence of meticulous plan but it will not be approved without having budget. Unlike earlier days, organizations have been pretty cautious about their spending. We are living in the days when market capitalizations of listed companies is washed away by billion dollars because of one or two news articles, raising questions about their business fundamentals. It is imperative that companies will turn highly cautious about where they are spending if business turns upside down. Yeah, other-way-round is also true – unless you spend wisely, prudently on newer tech, processes or innovations, your business will turn obsolete. This section talks about project budgeting process, cost tracking aspects.

Back To Basics – Project Planning (Part-V): Project Cost Planning

Back To Basics – Project Planning (Part-V): Project Cost Planning

Project Risk Planning

Unfortunately risk planning is ignored by most project managers however it is equally crucial for a successful project delivery. Without sound risk management process, a business can not succeed, it can not scale. Planning right risks in a project is a result of awareness, experience as well as maturity of the processes and also people involved.

Back To Basics – Project Management Guide : Project Risk Planning

Back To Basics – Project Management Guide : Project Risk Planning

Project Quality Planning

Back To Basics – Project Planning Guide: Project Quality Planning

Back To Basics – Project Planning Guide: Project Quality Planning

Project Communication

You have to plan project communication right from the beginning. Unlike previous days, stakeholders are well informed and have clear expectations. It is better to agree and declare the project communication plan right in the beginning.

Project Management Guide: Project Communication Planning

Project Management Guide: Project Communication Planning

As You Start Planning or Managing Project

  • As you start managing projects, you need to understand goals and objectives before taking up a project
  • You also need to set and manage expectations of project sponsors, customers and other stakeholders
  • Project managers also need to set a clear understanding of expectations from project team members
  • Developing a high level project deliverable timeline as well as detailed schedule (Gantt Chart, Agile/Kanban)
  • Set a project budget and estimate the cost of project
  • Identifying right resources to carry out project activities
  • Establishing and enabling a common platform for identification and addressing project issues and project risks
  • Set a process to submit, evaluate and approve project change requests
  • Controlling project during its execution and concluding it for completion

As you see look at above list, you realize, a lot of work goes into project even before kicking it off. That’s where the project planner, project manager have to do solid homework or call it drawing room work.

For planning and managing projects, there are various documents project manager has to consider, refer, prepare, share and update such as

  • Project charter that establishes
    • Project goals,
    • Objectives,
    • Background and
    • Approach
  • Project scope document or project requirement document
    • List of project deliverables
    • Project Constraints/assumptions
    • Exclusion list of requirements/deliverables
  • Project Schedule
  • Project cost plan
    • Budget
    • Estimated cost
    • Actual cost tracking mechanism
    • Billing/revenue
    • Margins/profits,
  • Resource management plan
  • Other supporting plans

The key to a successful project is in the planning. Creating a project plan is the first thing you should do when undertaking any project.

Often project planning is ignored in favour of getting on with the work. However, many people fail to realise the value of a project plan for saving time, money and many problems.

The articles linked above, in this post provide a simple approach to basics of project planning. Someone who is interested in project management professional will find this guide quite useful, for experienced project manager, it will be a good refresher or back to basics reading of basics of project planning

Additional readings about project management, leadership

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About Zilicus

Zilicus offers All-In-One project portfolio management software ZilicusPM that provides complete project management control for project and portfolio managers; at the same time makes it really simple for project team members to stay on top of things. If you have been managing projects with conventional spreadsheet/ MS Excel templates or emails, it is the right time to start using online project portfolio management software. ZilicusPM is great platform for better project collaboration. Take a screenshot tour of project management software tour of ZilicusPM and Sign up for 30-days free trial of project management software ZilicusPM

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I am a co-founder of Zilicus Solution and I write about project management, collaboration, productivity, project management software, cloud computing, requirement management and business empowerment.