The key to a successful project is in the planning. Creating a project plan is the first thing you should do when undertaking any kind of project.
Often, getting on with the work is favored over project planning. Frequently, the value of a project plan (and how it saves time and money and helps avoid many problems) is not realized.
So how is a project plan created?
Step 1 Stakeholders
First, it is important to identify the stakeholders in your project. A stakeholder is anybody directly or indirectly impacted by the project. It is not always easy to identify the stakeholders of a project, particularly those impacted indirectly.
Step 2 Needs of Stakeholders
Once you understand who the stakeholders are, the next step is to establish their needs. The best way to do this is by conducting stakeholder interviews.
Step 3 Prioritize
The next step once you have conducted all the interviews and have a comprehensive list of needs is to prioritize them. From the prioritized list create a set of goals that can be easily measured.
Step 4 Project Deliverables
Using the goals you have defined in Step 1, create a list of things the project needs to deliver in order to meet those goals. Specify when and how each item must be delivered.
Add the deliverables to the project plan with an estimated delivery date. Delivery dates that are more accurate will be established during the scheduling phase.
Step 5 Project Schedule
Create a list of tasks that need to be carried out for each deliverable identified in Step 2. For each task identify: the amount of effort (hours or days) required to complete the task; and the resource that will carry out the task. Then, the effort required for each deliverable and an accurate delivery date can be used to update the deliverables section of the project plan.
A common problem discovered at this point is when a project has an imposed delivery deadline from the sponsor that is not realistic based on your estimates. If you discover that this is the case you must contact the sponsor immediately. The options you have in this situation are:
Use the project schedule to justify pursuing one of these options.
Step 6 Supporting Plans
This section deals with plans you should create as part of the planning process. These can be included directly in the plan.
Just as the project plan is successful, the project is successful when the needs of the stakeholders have been met.