Now we come to the nitty-gritty of what is required to put together a plan for a project. Another common misconception when it comes to project planning is that it only applies to large construction projects – this is far from the case. Planning can be applied to almost any industry and work type, including IT, manufacturing, highways, utilities and many more. I will be going into more detail on each of the sections below & putting together some case studies soon which will hopefully help make more sense of the process. However for now over the next few blogs I’ll go through the generic requirements for generating a project plan. As ever, comments are welcome, please give feedback below…
When planning a project of any discipline, type or size, you should consider the following issues:
- Decide the project’s objectives
Determine the objectives, or goals, of the project. It is only by understanding the project’s objectives that you can organise the tasks required to meet the objectives and judge when the project has been completed. Some projects have a single objective; other projects have more than one.
- Understand the constraints on the project
Typical constraints for most projects are cost, quality, timescale and internal and external constraints. There may be other constraints such as working to a recognised standard or using environmentally-friendly materials.
- Identify the tasks and estimate their durations
Identify the tasks that must be completed to reach the objective. Start with identifying general tasks, then break them down into smaller, more specific tasks. The more detail you go into, the more accurate the final project plan will be.
- Estimate the duration of each task.
The more accurate your estimates, the more accurate the total project duration will be. However, you do not need to be completely accurate, as you can adjust the duration of tasks easily once the project is underway.
- Ensure that you have included all the tasks required to reach the project objectives
If you omit any tasks, you must add them once the project is underway, which may cause unforeseen problems with the progress of the project.
- Decide which tasks affect other tasks
Define what relationships (also known as logic, or logic links) need to be identified in the plan, as in which tasks affect other tasks. For example, identify tasks that must be completed before other can start and tasks that can take place simultaneously.
- Identify any time constraints or external constraints
Determine whether there are any time constraints or external constraints on any of the tasks. For example, note whether a task can only take place during a specific week, or if a task cannot start before notification has been received from a third party.