The success of a project is never an accident. When you take up a project, you cannot simply start the implementation and find your way as the project develops. If you try that, you can lose direction quite early, miss your goals and deadlines, and overspend your resources on the wrong priorities, leading to the failure of the project. So, a project should be clearly structured and managed. There are five different project management phases.
Plans are worthless. Planning is essential.
Project management phases
1. Initiation: Project initiation is a phase where you define a business case at a broad level and create a project charter consisting of broad goals, budget, rough timeline, constraints, etc.
2. Project planning: During this phase, teams establish specific measurable goals, deliverables, a clear project roadmap, risks and ways to manage them, tracking mechanisms, project management tools, communication methodologies, etc.
3. Execution: During this stage, managers establish workflows, and the work is done by the teams.
4. Project monitoring and controlling: In this project management phase, the progress towards the milestones is monitored using the tracking mechanisms. Reports are generated and reviewed by stakeholders, and changes are implemented according to the inferences and findings.
5. Completion and closure of the project: At the end of the estimated project period, the project is completed and handed over. The outcomes and deliverables are reviewed and quantified, and the success/failure of a project is determined. The teams review performance, success and failures, and take with them the learnings from the project for continuous improvement of their own performance as well as the performance of the organization.
The Crucial Project Planning Phase
Among these project management steps, project planning is one of the most important stages, as the project starts to take shape in it, and it can make the difference between success and failure of the project.
What is project planning?
Project planning is the process of determining what it takes to complete the project within a specified time frame and budget. Project planning converts a vision or an expectation into a clear plan of action that can guide you and your team towards the successful completion of the project.
Components of a project plan
Project planning involves defining three different aspects of a project. They are:
1. Scope of the project
Scope of the project includes project requirements, the vision behind it, measurable goals, outcomes and deliverables, and the activities that can and cannot be done for the successful completion of the project.
2. Budget and allocation of resources
Budget is one of the most critical aspects of a project. Budget needs to be allocated for different phases, tasks and activities based on their priorities and requirements. Allocating fewer resources for something is equally damaging to the project as allocating more for the same. Project planning carefully weighs different requirements and priorities of the project before determining the budget for each. In addition to the budget, the project also needs other resources, such as manpower, tools and facilities. Project planning also takes these into account.
Every task and activity in the project takes a certain amount of time for different teams to complete. Adequate time should be given for each, and there should be an estimated timeline for each. Further, a project may be implemented in the long term. So, it may be divided into various phases, which will be deemed complete at the achievement of specific milestones. Project planning involves defining these timelines, creating a schedule for each team and individual, and determining the milestones for various phases of the project.
Why is project planning important?
Project planning requires a concerted effort from your teams to work towards common goals for the project to succeed. If you don’t have a project plan, you may accidentally let your teams make their own plans that they deem fit. It can cause chaos and different teams may take the project in different directions, leading to catastrophic failure of the project. So it is absolutely essential to have a project plan.
When you do project planning, and when your team follows a predetermined project plan using industry-standard project management tools, you are more likely to prioritize the tasks correctly, cross milestones according to the schedule, and meet objectives within the specified time and allocated resources. So, a project plan plays a crucial role in the success of the project.
Benefits of Project Planning
1. It provides clarity and alignment
By providing a common point of reference, project planning ensures that the employees are well aligned to the goals and work together in harmony as teams. A project plan guides you and your team in the right direction and provides clarity over what needs to be achieved. It states what all activities and tasks need to be done to make the project successful. It gives you common goals to work towards, in order to complete the project successfully. When teams follow the plan and are able to produce results and successfully complete their projects, employee morale gets a boost, and your team members are more likely to stay motivated and be happy at your organization.
2. Project planning paves way for success
The most common reason behind project failure is a lack of understanding of the requirements, goals, roles and responsibilities of a project among team members. A well-planned and meticulously managed project defines all these clearly, making it easier to direct a team’s energy and effort. This boosts the performance of the organization, and increases the rate of success.
3. Project planning ensures timely delivery of project
The success of a project in most cases depends on the timely completion. Timely completion of projects keeps your projects and your business relevant to the market conditions. In contrast, delays and scope creep lead to project failure. Project planning ensures that employees stick to a schedule and follow timelines and deliver the project in a timely manner.
4. Project planning enables you to use the resources judiciously
A poorly-managed project, even if it meets its objectives and deliverables, can still consume a lot of resources, affecting the profitability of the organization. Unexpected delays, mismanaged priorities and wasteful spending can lead to overshooting the budget and exhausting the resources well before the completion of the project. Project planning details out how the resources should be used; it allocates budget carefully and makes sure that the resources are spent efficiently.
5. Project planning lets you measure performance and make critical changes
Project planning enables you to set specific measurable goals and quantitatively measure success. You can constantly monitor the performance of the project and measure the achievement of short-term goals, based on which you can correct mistakes, make adjustments in execution and allocate resources in a different way at every phase of the project.
Project management software for effective planning and implementation
There are numerous tools and free project management software that can help in planning and executing the project effectively. Following are some of the most popular project management tools available in the market today.
- Kissflow Project
Project management plan template
It is easier to create a project plan with the project management plan template. It covers all the essentials and can guide you to creating a comprehensive plan that can help you complete the project successfully.