Key Steps in Planning a Project

Key Steps in Planning a Project
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  • 0:01 Planning a Project
  • 0:46 Project Documentation
  • 2:32 The Kick-Off Meeting
  • 4:17 The Project Schedule…
  • 5:47 Review and Update the…
  • 7:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lilah Pressley

Certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and soon to be PSM certified. Versed in both waterfall and SCRUM methodologies

This lesson identifies the steps involved in planning a project. Each step will lay out what needs to be done before moving on to the next step. After going through the steps, you should be able to create a project plan for any project.

Planning a Project

Were you just handed your first project and now you have no idea where to start? Following the steps in this lesson will guide you through planning each step of the project. Projects are broken into phases to make it easier to manage them. Planning a project is the second phase of the project life cycle. During the first phase, the initiation phase, the scope document was created, stakeholders were identified, and high-level requirements were gathered. This lesson will walk through each step of planning the project, from creating the required documents, how and when to schedule your meetings, and getting approvals to start the work.

Project Documentation

The most important part of planning the project is creating the project plan. The project plan provides the blueprint for the project and should contain all of the information necessary to execute and monitor the project. There are multiple documents that should be included in the project plan:

  • The scope document, which defines the exact results the project is supposed to deliver.
  • The high-level business requirements, and these are the initial requirements that are provided by the customer. For example, the customer needs 35 blue widgets.
  • The budget and schedule is the estimate for how much it will cost to complete the project and how long it will take to complete.
  • The roles and responsibilities document is a formal document that describes the roles and expectations for every stakeholder on the project team.
  • The governance document details the process for making any changes to the project once the project plan has been completed. For example, if the customer decides he needs 75 blue widgets half way through the project, the project team will agree how this will be handled.
  • The communication plan is a formal plan that details the types of communication that will be sent, how often, and to whom.
  • The risk and contingencies plan is a document where the team works to identify any potential risks to the project and then develops a plan to minimize or avoid these risks.

The project plan is the document that includes every task that will be completed during the project. Each task will be assigned a resource or a task owner. At this point in the project, the project plan starts with some high-level chunks of work and during subsequent planning meetings, each team member will identify the detailed tasks to be completed.

The Kick-Off Meeting

A kick-off meeting is the first meeting of a project with the stakeholders. A stakeholder is a person or a group that has an interest in the project. Stakeholders can be the project sponsor, project manager, project team, or the customer. Allow for plenty of advance notice when scheduling the kick-off meeting. Check calendars to ensure all stakeholders are available for the kick-off. As the acceptances or declines start to roll in, make sure that the required attendees have accepted or that someone can attend in their place. Send out an agenda for the kick-off meeting a few days before the meeting, as this will help to keep the meeting on track.

Remember, this is the first official meeting with the stakeholders and it is time to energize the team. The project manager's position will be similar to a coach of a football team. It is the job of the project manager to help create positive energy for this project. Let the members of the team introduce themselves. Each team member should give their name, role, and discuss where they fit in the project. The project sponsor will fill the role of the team owner. The project sponsor should speak briefly about project in order to show buy-in to all of the stakeholders. Buy-in means that there is support or commitment to the project. Every project needs buy-in to succeed.

The whole team has the agenda in front of them, and this is the time to let the team know the objective and what the next steps are. Inform the team of other meetings that will be scheduled, such as regular status meetings, project plan updates, and project schedule updates. There is more planning to be done, but at this point, everyone is now engaged in the project.

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