Project Planning Steps- A 9-Part Checklist

In order to achieve the maximum return on investment from a promotion or business initiative, companies must carefully lay out the scope and objectives of the project.

By taking the time to go through each of the project planning steps, businesses can ensure they are using their resources and capital in the most efficient manner to preserve their profits and prepare their operations for possible disruptions.

What Is Project Planning?

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Undertaking successful business projects requires strategy and structure. Project planning is the process of assessing, prioritizing, and assigning resources and tasks within an organization to create a strategy for the effective implementation of a project.

There are many tiers of project planning, which take into account the following components-

  • Project scope and goals
  • Key project deliverables
  • Scheduling tasks
  • Budget and expenses
  • Resource planning
  • Communications planning
  • Risk management
  • Stakeholder management

An effective project management plan will establish the key team and delegations, the materials and resources needed, budget allocation, and the communication method to keep all of the project team members, management, and stakeholders informed of the progress.

9 Essential Steps for Project Planning

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A clear path will give companies the confidence to implement their project by understanding the key steps and the order of each stage. This clarifies the goals and identifies the processes required to reach the deliverable.

1. Business Case Outline

A business case is the company's reason for the project. This outline describes the reasons for the project's initiation, the benefits, and the return on investment. If the project serves to solve a problem, this should also be outlined in the business case.

The outline is then presented to the organization's decision-makers for approval, explaining what needs to be done, how it will be achieved, and the budget required to reach these goals.

2. Stakeholder Meeting

Every person who has a vested interest in the project is a stakeholder - from the people responsible for the project's success to the ones who profit from it.

The project plan will identify the stakeholders, such as the regulators. Holding stakeholder meetings is vital to share the project's goals and the expectation of the final deliverable.

3. Project Scope Definition

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The scope outlines the essential tasks the organizations must undertake in order to meet the project deliverables while prioritizing what is essential and nonessential for the most effective use of resources.

This helps to prevent scope creep, which refers to when valuable resources are used for tasks that are not vital to the project's success.

4. Objective and Goal Setting

Goals are broader than objectives, which are specific, measurable actions taken to meet the overarching goals. These should be clearly identified in the business case outline and should be detailed further in this phase.

5. Deliverable Outline

The good or service that is the end-goal of the project is the deliverable. This term can also describe the various steps taken to achieve the goal. Determining what the final deliverable is involves pinpointing the clear expectations of stakeholders.

6. Project Schedule

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The schedule of the project is defined by the time and the budget. This is the confines of the project that determine how resources and tasks will be allocated. All tasks will be set on a timeline with the end-goal as the final deliverable, and the high and low-level tasks are also identified within the schedule.

Generally, schedules are separated into different stages known as milestones. This marks the end of one phase of the project and the beginning of the next. In the project timeline, dates may be exact (end of day 16th May) or within a small range (i.e., 16 - 18th May).

7. Task Assigning

Once the schedule is set, each task is then assigned to the team. This team should be composed of members who have the necessary skills, experience, and time to complete the project.

Each member's roles and responsibilities are outlined here, as well as the expected quality and deliverables for each task. If the schedule allows, people can have multiple tasks rather than just one.

Communication plans should also be outlined so that each person is aware of how to ask questions, contact other members for information and materials, and report to the project manager.

8. Assessing Risk

All projects will have risks involved to some degree, whether due to internal or external factors. These potential disruptions can impact the scope, time, and expenses, which in turn affect the schedule, resources, and budget. This means that a flexible plan is essential. If the schedule or budget is too rigid, the ramifications of obstacles and problems that arise will be much more serious.

Continuously monitoring the progress of the project is one way to manage the risk of over-budgeting or not meeting deadlines. For example, by comparing the progress with the planned expectations for that phase, businesses can assess whether they are underperforming or exceeding expectations.

9. Progress Reporting

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Ultimately, the success of the project is defined by meeting the expectations of stakeholders. Keeping the key stakeholders informed as the project progresses is essential as they have a vested interest in the outcome.

Regular meetings are key, and progress reporting in-person and virtually will appease stakeholders and give them an opportunity to present questions or concerns along the way.