Project planning is very important for the success of anything you want to carry on. Project planning forms part of the project management cycle and ensures there is consistency in four distinct areas including initiation, planning, execution, and closure. The importance of planning can never be overlooked.
With proper planning, projects run smoothly according to plan. You will be able to deliver projects on time and budget and everyone will have a mutual understanding of the objectives of a project. Everyone will understand all the roles in achieving their objectives and you will be able to manage time, costs, and risks more efficiently.
Here are some key elements to effective project planning;
Identify stakeholder’s needs
The first step to delivering projects in the right manner lies in identifying all the needs of stakeholders. Stakeholders include anyone involved in a project including end-users, clients, and project sponsors. You need to identify the stakeholders, meet with them, and write down their needs. You can use a decision matrix to ensure you prioritize tasks in the right manner. When meeting with stakeholders, ensure you lead structured conversations and get everything in order.
Set out objectives
You need to set up smart project objectives. There should be clear deliverables and deadlines. You need to understand the specific products and services you must deliver to your clients. All deliverables need to be well written on what must be delivered and the time allocated for each item.
Come up with project schedule
You must come up with a detailed project schedule. Tasks must be assigned to each deliverable. You must specify due dates for tasks as well as who is responsible. By specifying who is responsible, you will be avoiding misunderstandings in the future. You should also identify dependencies. Are there any specific tasks that depend on the completion of other tasks? There might be chances where you need client approval on a design so that you can carry the tasks ahead.
Define roles and responsibilities
You need to be specific on who’s responsible for each task. Additionally, you must define all the roles that need to be taken up. Indicate who is responsible for the entire project, and each deliverable as well. Define the client roles as well as the reporting structure. When you have well-defined roles and responsibilities, you will need to perform regular check-ins to ensure everything is going per the plan. The check-ins may be in the form of meetings, weekly reports as well as daily conversations.
Have a well-defined budget
With a well-defined budget, you will be able to work on project costs and identify any shortfall. All plans must specify the upfront costs so that you can allocate budgets in the right manner and identify any shortfalls. Additionally, you must have a plan for monitoring and controlling costs. With such a plan, you will be able to remain on budget and keep the project running. There should be a solid communication plan in place as well, that will help to keep the project forward.