Project planning is the second phase of the project lifecycle. It represents a group of processes to create a range of documents that specify valuable information on the total scope, objectives, and course of action required for implementing a project. All the documents are designed to define approaches for exploring all aspects of the project constraints (such as time, scope, risks, resources, procurements, quality etc.).
In the PMBOK Guide, the planning phase is regarded as the Planning Process Group that represents a series of activities and steps for developing the project management plan (the PM plan) and subsidiaries plans such as communications management plan, quality management plan, risk management plan etc. The reference handbook identifies PM plan as the primary source of information on how the project will be carried out and how all the constraints will be addressed. In this context, there are two high-level processes of the planning phase:
- Develop Subsidiary Plans
- Develop Project Management Plan
These processes can be divided into a range of simple tasks and activities. In such a way it will be easier for the project management team (the PM team) to develop the plans and address the constraints during the project lifecycle.
Using VIP Task Manager to complete all the tasks and activities of the planning processes will help the PM team to do everything required for successful project planning. Letís find out how to develop the PM plan and subsidiary plans in accordance with the PMBOK Guide and then see how VIP Task Manager can be helpful.
Develop Subsidiary Plans
Before your team can create the PM plan it needs to define how to address the key constraints of your project. The handbook suggests designing a detailed plan of actions for managing each of the constraints. Such plans are regarded as subsidiary against the PM plan and serve as input data for further planning on how the project will be implemented throughout all the further phases of the lifecycle (Execute-Monitor&Control-Close).
In order to develop the subsidiary plans and address the constraints, itís recommended to carry out a range of processes. Below we describe these processes.
Define product requirements . Any project is carried out in order to produce a certain product. The PMBOK Guide suggests collecting and refining requirements both for the project and its product. The project manager needs to use the Project Charter and the stakeholder register to define requirements through communicating with the customer and other stakeholders. Group meetings and conferences are tools to establish communications and collect requirements. The activity results in creating the requirements management plan.
Create the project schedule . There are certain time limits and durations to start and implement your project. The scheduling process aims to analyze optimum timeframes per activity within the project and identify durations and resource requirements necessary for performing individual and grouped activities. Such documents as resource calendars, network diagrams, and activity duration estimates are used in developing the project schedule which actually serves as the time management plan.
Define quality levels . With reference to the PMBOK Guide, any project needs to be carried out under certain quality levels; otherwise, itís nearly impossible to produce the projectís deliverables that satisfy the customer. Thatís why itís important to define acceptable quality levels and standards for the project. The project manager in cooperation with the quality management team needs to develop documentation on quality requirements/standards. This activity is about creating the quality management plan that documents how the project will demonstrate compliance with quality requirements/standards.
Staffing . This process aims to address the constraint of human resources (HR). Itís about defining and documenting roles, responsibilities, skills, and reporting rules required for staffing the project. The project manager needs to use the Project Charter, scope statement, requirements management plan and other documents to identify what people with what skills are required to carry out what responsibilities and take what roles. This initiative ends up with developing the HR management plan.
Establish communications . People involved in your project need to exchange information between each other, thus a process for establishing communications is required. This process is to determine a communication approach (how to communicate) and define what kind of information stakeholders will need to exchange (what to communicate). Such documents as the stakeholders register and stakeholder management strategy are used in developing the communications management plan.
Plan for risks . This process aims to define how to respond to identified risks and exploit opportunities and what recovery actions can be taken in case of unexpected circumstances. It includes these three steps: Identify risks and opportunities, Analyze identified risks and opportunities, and Develop a risk response strategy. The project manager in cooperation with the risk management team needs to determine what risks have a positive or negative impact on the project, analyze those risks both qualitatively and quantitatively, and develop action plans for enhancing opportunities (risks having a positive impact to the project) and reducing threats (risks having a negative impact to the project). The risk management plan and risk register will be outputs of the activity.
Plan for procurements . The focus of this process is put on defining purchasing decisions, choosing a procurement approach and identifying potential vendors. The project manager in cooperation with the purchasing division (department) needs to create a list of procurement items necessary for the project, establish supply relationships with vendors that can provide the necessary items, and keep track of the status of deliveries. With reference to the PMBOK Guide, all these issues should be addressed in the procurement management plan.
Develop PM plan
When all the subsidiary plans are created you can start developing the general plan for your project. The PMBOK Guide says that the development process needs to be carried out under the rules of Project Integration Management. It means all data listed in the subsidiary plans should be analyzed and integrated into a single plan which serves as the primary source of strategic information on how the project will be carried out throughout the further phases (Execute, Monitor & Control, Close).
There are also some concerns that should be also addressed when developing the general plan.
- Scope. Scope is one of the most critical constraints as it defines boundaries for a project. It says what is inside and outside of the project. Using a formal scope statement allows describing the project and its product.
- Work Breakdown Structure. WBS gives a big picture view of project work and deliverables divided into smaller, more manageable components. Itís used to define activity lists and task lists.
- Budget. Budgeting is required because it lets aggregate estimated costs of project activities listed in WBS and establish an authorized cost baseline.
Using VIP Task Manager
The planning processes can be managed with help of VIP Task Manager. Itís convenient to divide the processes into smaller tasks and activities. By using VIP Task Manager you can make to-do lists and plan individual and group activities. For example, in Task Tree view you can plan the following tasks for managing the planning processes:
Develop Subsidiary Plans
- Arrange meetings with stakeholders
- Identify durations and resources requirements per activity
- Define standards and requirements for quality
- List skills and knowledge required for team members
- Organize interviews with candidates
- Choose what means of communication to use
- Analyze identified risks and opportunities
- List procurement items necessary for the project
- Negotiate with vendors to establish supply relationship