Definition & Planning Phase of Project Management

Instructor: Noel Ransom

Noel has taught college Accounting and a host of other related topics and has a dual Master's Degree in Accounting/Finance. She is currently working on her Doctoral Degree.

This lesson focuses on an overview of the definition and planning phase of project management within the project management planning methodology and practice. Read this lesson to learn what the definition and planning phase is and common documents that should be used.

Project Management Methodology

The project management methodology focuses on the ability to apply tools, skills, processes, and knowledge to a series of tasks or activities to meet the goals and requirements of a project. A project manager is assigned to a project to initiate, plan, and monitor a project team. The project manager follows a specific process to monitor and control a project from beginning to end. The process is broken down into several smaller parts called project phases. There are five project phases that consist of the project management methodology. The second phase is the project definitions and planning phase. Let's take a look at this phase with an example.

Project Definition and Planning

Janet is a project manager responsible for managing a project team through each phase of the project. Janet receives information from her manager that the project charter and project initiation phase is complete, and she must begin work on the second phase, which is project definition and planning. During the definition and planning phase, Janet must define the scope of the work and set goals for the project. The project scope consists of information that defines the work to be done on the project along with project resources and budget allocations. After Janet defines the scope, she sets the goals of the project and the project deliverables. Janet also develops a project budget based on the activities and tasks outlined in the project charter and project plan. Janet must also consider labor costs and the time it takes each project team members to work on each assigned task. After Janet creates the project budget, she begins working on the documents she needs to present to each stakeholder throughout the project to provide project updates.

Documents Used

There are several documents Janet must create during the planning process so proper documentation is presented to the stakeholders during the project. Project documents include the work breakdown structure (WBS), milestones, communication plan, and risk management plan. The work breakdown structure is a visual depiction of each detailed task. The purpose of the WBS is to provide manageable sections of each task for the project team. The WBS is extremely detailed and looks like an organizational chart but with defined tasks for each project team member. The milestones list outlines specific goals that should be met by specific due dates. Janet uses the milestones list to ensure the project remains on schedule.

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