Project Planning – Key to Projects’ Success

Success or failure of a project largely depends on its planning. A good detailed project plan can successfully drive a complex project to completion and a bad unclear project plan can even cause the simplest of projects to fail.

All project plans are governed by milestones. Every milestone carries a deliverable and a date. All the activities, processes, resources, and timeline revolve around these milestones. Projects run on milestones.

Every Project is exclusive because it has a particular set of operations designed to accomplish a goal. A Project is considered as a temporary entity as any project that starts has to end.

A project is said to be successful if
– all milestones are met as planned and
– the final product is delivered as per the scope and the clients’ expectations.

This calls for meticulous planning and execution.

All development activities are categorized into the following four phases of a project lifecycle:

  • Initiation Phase
  • Planning Phase
  • Execution Phase
  • Monitoring, Controlling & Closing Phase

Here we are discussing the planning phase in this blog. The planning phase covers a major part of the whole development process. It starts with the output of the initiation phase and ends by providing input to initiate the next phase i.e. the execution phase.

The most important step in the planning phase is creating a WBS i.e. Work Breakdown Structure. Detailed working at the WBS stage will help to successfully execute a project.  Based on the WBS one can be in a better position to define activities, plan schedules, align resources and commit a timeline.

In any project the most critical job is estimating the work effort and planning the resources to execute the tasks.

The first step will be to calculate activity duration. Once we estimate the number of work periods (weeks/months) required to complete the individual task with estimated resources we can work on how much time an individual task will take to get completed. Accordingly, based on the activity duration and scope, the resources can be categorized i.e. Fixed / floating resource and allocation on task/project.

Second step will be planning and aligning the resources on different task/project based on their skills vis-à-vis the project type. If the project is having scenarios then a resource with illustration skill has to be allocated, and if the project is of branching logic in HTML5 than a programmer with JavaScript skills has to be assigned on the programming task.

While planning the resources, the spotlight should also be on the longest path of the plan (Critical Path), which is going to use more time and money.

The next step will be to create a schedule where one has to analyze activity sequences, resource requirements, duration and schedule constraints. Three main factors need to be taken into consideration:
– Duration
– Task dependencies
– Constraints

On completion of this stage we will get to know the start date and finish date for each task.

The last stage of the planning phase is Control Schedule. At this stage the status of the project activities and processes are regularly monitored. If required, the schedule is updated accordingly and communicated to the team and client.

Finally, the Planning Phase ends here and Execution Phase begins. In the next blog we will discuss the Execution Phase.

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