Planning is one of the most important stages in management of a project. Many times this stage is neglected and work is started without proper and adequate planning.
The first step in the planning process is to identify the goals of the project. Communication with stakeholders of the project is a useful exercise that helps in identifying the goals of the project.
Stakeholders of a project include the client, the company delivering the project, the team members doing the project and anybody else who is directly and indirectly affected by the project. Interaction with stakeholders helps the project manager understand what the stakeholders want from the project. The ultimate test of the success of a project is whether or not it is able to satisfy the stakeholders.
The second step in project planning is identification of project deliverables that will be required for achieving the project goals. The date and format of delivery should be clearly explained along with each deliverable.
The third step in project planning is scheduling. Scheduling means estimating the time and resource required for each task that will be required for completing the project successfully. A project is completed successfully when all the deliverables have been achieved within time and budget.
The fourth step in planning is to create plans regarding human resource requirements, communications and risk management. The human resource plan lays out the human resource requirement of the project; who will be the human resources that will be involved in the project and what will be their specific roles.
Communication is critical for effective collaboration between project team members and other stakeholders. The Communication Plan sets out briefly the communication channels within the project.
The Risk Management Plan is very important. In this plan the various risks to the project are identified and listed. An example of one such risk is unexpected shortage of a resource that is required for successful implementation midway through the project.Once the risks have been identified the risk response to each type of risk is devised. Backup plans are created and the risk management approach that will be taken for each type of risk is explained.
A detailed project plan acts as a blueprint during the implementation stage. Without proper planning a project is unlikely to be successful. However planning should not be too rigid. It should be flexible to change if such a need arises during the course of project implementation.