Figure out what you want
You made it out of initiation and you are on to planning the project. Now what?No use looking dumb founded like a deer in the headlight. Project planning is not rocket science. Just like anything else, simplify the process, follow the steps and you’re on your way to success. There are just some basic things that you have to do to plan a project, let us run through the slew of them up front then go through the first one in detail.
Seventeen steps to planning a project
1. Figure out what you need or want as an outcome.
2. Categorize and prioritize your requirements.
3. Plan how to manage your requirements.
4. Understand what is included in, or excluded from the project.
5. Break down all of the project work into smaller chunks.
6. List all activities in each chunk of work.
7. Sequence all activities in each chunk of work.
8. Figure out what resources you need to complete each activity.
9. Figure out how long it will take to do the work of each activity.
10. Schedule time to complete each activity.
11. Estimate how much it will cost to complete each schedule activity.
12. Determine your budget.
13. Outline a plan to make sure you have a quality product.
14. Assign the people to complete each activity.
15. Plan what, when and how to communicate and to whom.
16. Plan how to identify, evaluate, and deal with risks.
17. Figure out what you need to make or buy to pull off the project.
Step 1: Figure out what you need or want as an outcome
Right off the bat, you have to know where you are going, so that at the very least you can recognize if you are there or not. The first thing you need to do to kick off this project planning process is to figure out what it is you need, or want as an outcome of the project. In other words, collect requirements.
Think about the outcome or outcomes that this project will produce at the end of the day. These are the outcomes you could touch, and feel, although sometimes the outcome may be a service, and that is all right. Describe what specific conditions these outcomes must have in place for you to know that your project is a success at the end of the day. Another way of going about this is to determine, and prioritize the wants, needs, and expectations of all of the people or organizations that have a stake in your project.
Write out all of these requirements. Do not rely on your memory, and walk around with all of this information in your head. We may have all experienced at some time or another how something made perfect sense in our head, and it’s not until we got to writing it down did the gaping holes appear.
Take the time out to write down all requirements in enough detail that you or anyone else for that matter, can measure these requirements once the project work begins. You can use a couple of different techniques to get requirements information from the customer. You could use interviews, questionnaires, survey, or even observation. You might even have some other techniques of your own that may work in your situation. It does not matter which technique or combination of techniques you use to get this information from customers, as long as at the end of the day, you establish the exact requirements of all stakeholders so that the project will result in you producing the goods, or service that meets their needs.
Dorcas M.T.Cox, MBA, PMP is an instructor of project management certification classes at The Bahamas Institute of Financial Services(BIFS), an author, and is also president and CEO of Project Management Solutions Ltd. Contacts: www.projectmanagementsolutionsltd.com; e-mail: Dorcas at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Bahamas Project Solutions.
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