Every important task to run a project can be found in the project plan. Before the team starts working on your product the manager will engage in project planning to ensure things go the right way. First, the team asks why they are building a certain product and what should be their take on it. Once they have defined their goal, it is time to know what they should do to achieve it. It is easy to get tangled in many aspects of the creation process. To avoid all sorts of trouble and have appropriate solutions way ahead the team meeting with the problem, a strategy is a must!
How is it Done?
Basically, a project plan explains how to carry through with set out objectives. From what needs to be done to reach them, money and human resources, to optimalizing risks. Primary elements in project planning to fix are:
- Human resources
They are essential for the project plan, because it is the people that will do the work. Between the team members, they have to be managed in terms of skills they have to complete the tasks and time they have to do so. On certain levels of the project process there is a need for communication between the members and you as well.
It is good to determine how people will exchange information with each other. What sort of information is going to be conveyed, who are the recipients and at what times that happens? One of the most helpful tools for that is an online project management system. At INVO we like to use Slack and Trello. Memebers of the team can update when they are available and what tasks have been completed for others to view. Being able to see when all the memebers are at disposal can ease up holding big meetings.
Writing out tasks to do will help counting aproximate time for the project plan to be finalized. To realize what tasks need to be done in which periods of time, the Gantt chart can be made for example. On the chart you can see the schedule with the timeline of the project. Some assignments can be completed at the same time, while other require previous ones to be already closed. Tasks are placed on the chart based on when should they start and when should they be finished. That way people can see the progress that has been made. Organizing tasks in the right order will prevent undesired “holes” in the scenario built throughout project planning.
Every task needs to be assigned to a person, along with determining the deadline and necessary resources as well as their availability. It helps to prioritize duties and link those that overlap each other to create dependencies.
Project planning involves costs. By the time the tasks have been written out, it becomes clear what expenses will need to be covered. More detailed overview of assignments will make estimating the budget easier.
For the team to be ready to face the obstacles, a project plan must contain how to track the risks and take action so that they do not pose a threat.
Your Role in Project Planning
As a client, you are one of the most – if not the most – important person on the team. You are the person who defines what the product should be like. That is the first phase of project planning. Knowing what the project plan is for helps setting everything else mentioned above. The stance towards the project is controlled by the characteristics of the product.
Make sure you get introduced to the plan. On the team, there are different members, who will take care of your project on distinct levels. It is from you, that they will learn, what you expect. Without you, the product can’t be put to life, not even it’s project plan. The outcome relies on what information you will forward. If you would like to learn a few tips on how to communicate your idea better, we recommend our previous post.
The fundamental role that you will take on, is the role of a supervisor. You should be involved in project as much as you can, give the team your opinions and recieve reports on the progress and any changes from the team. Remember to be available for the team so that they can move forward smoothly to the next steps with your approval.
Except making decisions about the product itself, you are also the sponsor of the project. You need to agree on the project plan’s costs and understand their flexibility due to risks and unexpected problems the team may run into during project planning and realization. It is not possible to expect everything, even with the best plan.
Project Planning Changes
After you have been introduced to the project plan, be ready for it to change slightly. New issues can be spotted along the way. Not all the things that are hoped for in the beggining can be granted. Some parts have to be estimated and the team will not find out if the speculation is true, until some work has been put into the product. Try to be patient and understanding – the team will have the key to solving the problem or an alternative solution for you!
Documenting the process
Total of individual segments prepared and modifications should be kept on paper and online, so that everyone is aware of them and can analyze them at any given time. It also keeps track of any mistakes made while project planning. Analyzing the details means having more knowledge and possible impact on what happens in the process. You may, for example, realize there are things you wish were done in a different manner which you did not catch while discussing the project initially, so now you can bring them to the team’s attention.
Before it All Begins
Elementary and prime as the project planning is, it does take time. Making a great program demands taking a few steps back and rethinking the choices made over and over again to establish it perfectly. It is good to not get frustrated with this process, for it will lead the project through and to finalization.
Use the Plan as the Roadmap and Do Not Be Afraid to Create Your Own Routes!
Being patient and knowing the plan from beggining to an end will help you monitor the progress and whether or not things are going the way you wanted them to. Sticking to a well made plan will definitely benefit the project. However, project planning is a process. And people feel the natural need for every process to get to the final edge, but the key is to actually never be certain that the project plan does not need any correction. Never stop thinking during the realization of the project and always reflect why certain options are being chosen over other ones. And are they the right way to go? You have the influence on creating your product and should play an active part in the making!