Planning for project managers is a technical competency that describes the process used to determine the overall project duration and when activities and events are planned to happen.
To work, project planning must include:
- Activities and their logical dependencies
- Activity durations
- Resource requirements and availability
To be competent in this area a project manager will need to:
- Define the plan and key timelines, including milestones from the beginning to the closure of the project.
- Identify the project's critical path.
- Work with the project team and stakeholders ensuring the plan answers any what, how, who and where questions.
- Ensure deliverables are produced in accordance with project plan and project Controls Standards.
- Ensure impacts of any deviations from plan are considered against the business case and are escalated to the responsible stakeholder where necessary.
- Regular updates to the project plan with actuals and estimates to complete.
- Determine if targets, dates and costs remain viable if change made including the critical path.
Getting project planning right is a complex activity and on larger projects it is not unusual to have a planning officer on the team with detailed knowledge and understanding of the planning process. A project manager must not lose sight of how a project plan reflects the overall picture and vision for the project. Getting lost in the detail of a plan can lead to time spent on activities that no longer contribute to the project benefits and direction can become time wasted.
Ensuring the right balance between detail and direction of the plan is a key project management task. However, as the saying goes, those who fail to plan, plan to fail.
What is your experience with planning, do you find your projects are over or under planned? Tell us what you think.
Resources for planning:
Links and downloads:
- Project Planning: A step by step guide on projectsmart.co.uk
- APM's Planning Factsheet has a good summary of the benefits of planning
- Advanced Project Management: Best Practices on Implementation by Harold Kerzner
- Project Planning and Control by Albert Lester
- Introduction to Project Planning published by the Association for Project Management