To ensure that you have a crystal clear project plan for every project, you must always take the following 5 steps to have a properly planned project. These steps are: Setting the project direction, identify all the tasks to be done, create the inter dependencies between relevant tasks, assign the resources and finally managing the plan.

Setting the direction of the project upfront will make sure that every stakeholder in the project is on the same page when the project starts. You need to include here the project’s vision, goals and all tangible deliverables. The high level timeframes and resourcing requirements must also be indicated. Document all the “in scope” and “out of scope” deliverables. Where necessary you can indicate what will be “in scope” in a phase 2, 3 or further down the line. Also identify and document the project benefits, costs and any milestones and constraints. Only once all these have been documented and agreed with the relevant stakeholders, will you be in a position to understand the full extent of the project.

Once you have a clear understanding of the project’s deliverables can you move to the next step, which is to start the actual planning. You will have to identify the high level groups of tasks or phases of the project that will make up the full project. Then each of these would need to be broken down in tasks and even sub-tasks until you have what is referred to as the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). This will initially be a series of activities following each other. Next assign duration or effort and start and end dates to each of these. Remember to always add a bit of extra time for any future unknowns. Now, also add your milestones.

The next step is to now determine all the inter dependencies between all the tasks and sub-tasks an to add all of these. This will ensure that when one task is starting to slip, it will inform you of any slippage or issues you may encounter with other tasks further into the project.

When all inter-dependencies have been added, the next step is to start adding all the required resources to the project. This is not only the people that is required to do the work, but also resources such as finances, equipment, materials and even the location or locations where the project will be executed. As you add resources, continuously check your resource allocation, as you may over utilize one and under utilize another resource. Over utilization could be a serious problem in your projects, as this may have the effect that not all tasks will be completed on time, if a specific resource is assigned to multiple tasks that require completion at the same time.

Now that you have created the tasks, added the inter-dependencies and added resources, you are ready for the final step which is to manage the plan. Firstly you can now create a baseline, which is used to measure the actual progress against. Once you have created the baseline, never change it, as this will then not be able to provide you with a clear measureable on the effectiveness in managing the project. Then you can start to record and track the actual time spent on every task against this baseline on a daily basis. When scope change occurs, remember to record any new tasks, start and end dates.

This plan can now be used to continuously track and monitor the progress of the project and will also provide you with enough information to regularly communicate the status of the project to all stakeholders.

And there you have the five steps to easily plan projects. Using these five steps every time you plan and manage the project, will most definitely ensure success on your projects.

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  1. Mazen Mahfouz

    Excellent information about the easy essential steps for any sesseful project Manager. I would like to receive some more, If this is free?
    Br .

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