Since any project management requires starting from a solid foundation and knowing in which direction you are going, it is essential to establish a project plan in advance. But how? In a competitive context where companies have to work on increasingly complex and innovative projects, how can you ensure that you consider all the essential elements for their successful conduct? Is it possible to accurately assess all the tasks to be carried out, the deadlines to be met, and the resources to be assigned? The answer is yes.
However, to achieve this goal, the correct planning of a project requires monitoring a precise and structured methodology. In this article, we explain how to plan the phases of a project to arrive at a winning final result. And since this activity requires the execution of several relatively complex tasks, we also present you with a selection of supporting software and a Gantt chart Excel template. But before we go any further, let’s go back in more detail on the definition and benefits of planning a project.
What Is A Project Plan?
The life cycle of a project comprises several phases. However, before you can start working on the project itself, you must dive into the essential stage of the project planning process. Planning a project consists of the following:
- Identify the different tasks that compose it.
- Prioritize these tasks
- Define their duration and expiry
- Identify the costs and human resources necessary for the realization of the project.
- Plan all steps clearly
This preparatory work requires a high degree of precision, but there are many benefits for the project manager.
What Are The Benefits Of A Project Plan?
Usually presented as a table or graph to be more visual, a project plan includes the essential data. By providing teams with an overview, it allows them to:
Structure Ideas In Advance
Indeed, planning requires several questions to be asked. Which tasks are essential for the realization of the project? Which are superfluous? What are the resources to research? What should be the final result? Planning a project means organizing your ideas.
Accurately Monitor The Progress Of The Project
Based on a project timetable, it is possible to identify which objectives have been achieved or not in the course of the project and react accordingly. Furthermore, it is better to anticipate the impact of problems throughout the project lifecycle.
Promote Communication And Collaborative Work
All project actors can refer to the program to manage their daily activities. Furthermore, they can more easily identify their place in the project, the hierarchy of tasks, and, thus, the impact of their work.
Allocate The Right Resources
By including factors such as the duration of each task or possible overlaps between them, planning allows you to realize projects more realistically, thus avoiding unnecessary sources of stress.
What Are The Planning Phases Of A Project?
Now that we have covered all aspects of planning a project let’s look at the stages of its development.
Understand The Objective And Conditions Of The Project
Understanding the project goal remains the basis. This preliminary reflection minimizes the risk of realizing that you have taken the wrong direction. Before any planning, be clear about the following:
- to the different products, expected results, and deadlines
- time requirements
- of the budget available to you
That said, we can take the next step.
Define The Different Tasks That Make Up The Project
The success of the project largely depends on this crucial stage. The method that might help you: To precisely define the different tasks that make up your project and ensure you remember all of them, use the WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) method. It consists of identifying the most important results and then dividing them into subsets. Each of these subsets is then subdivided to define tasks or tasks. The WBS method in detail:
Scheduling Of Activities
Once all of your tasks have been identified, it’s time to link them together so they can be sorted. This is called task planning. Every activity sequence has a starting and a logical line connecting a finishing task and all functions in between. These links are divided into four types:
- Finish-to-beginning links or: Activity B can only be started once Activity A is completed.
- End-to-End Links – Activity B can only be completed once Activity A is completed. However, waiting for A to complete for B to start is optional.
- Start to Start Links – Activity B can only be started once Activity A is started. On the other hand, starting B at the same time as A is optional.
- Start to Finish Links: Activity B can only be completed once Activity A has started.
- Note that the project manager can plan different scenarios for task planning. Therefore, depending on the progress of the project and the difficulties encountered, another plan can still be used.
Activity scheduling, especially in complex projects, is often done using the PERT diagram. Generally used in parallel with the Gantt chart, its construction reveals the connections and interdependencies between tasks and their execution time. In practice, a task is represented by an arrow surrounded by two nodes that materialize the steps. Each step has a before date and the last date.
Estimate The Duration Of Each Task And Project
This decisive step gives you a correct overview of the overall project duration. However, it requires the involvement of all players: everyone can better give a correct estimate of the time it will take to complete the tasks that concern them. Also, always consider the different time constraints to optimize your planning. For example, for legal reasons, some tasks must be completed by a specific date.
While the PERT diagram seen above helps determine the start and finish dates for each activity, the Critical Path Method allows you to estimate the entire duration of the project. In other words, the sequence of tasks on the critical path should be completed on time.
Organization Of A Calendar
Once the previous steps have been completed, all you have to do is build your calendar.
Because of the PERT chart, you can now fabricate a Gantt diagram. This addresses the various errands of an undertaking in a table with even bars delimited by a beginning and an end. It offers an unmistakable and speedy perspective on the undertaking’s advancement.
The Gantt outline is likewise a great device to envision achievements, i.e., the essential places to pause the undertaking life cycle (end of a stage, earth-shattering occasion, for example, item send off, financial plan, and so on), Advance notice, when you pass an achievement, pressing forward is the only option. At last, note that for little activities, you benefit from using time productively. It is standard to utilize the Gantt diagram straightforwardly without going through the Spunky graph.