How To Effectively Plan a Project
Project planning is a critical role in the success of the overall project. According to TechRepublic “Project planning plays an essential role in helping guide stakeholders, sponsors, teams, and the project manager through other project phases. Planning is needed to identify desired goals, reduce risks, avoid missed deadlines, and ultimately deliver the agreed product, service or result. Without careful planning, project performance is almost certainly guaranteed to suffer. The Project Management Institute estimates that as of 2017, organizations were wasting an average of $97 million for every $1 billion invested, due to poor project performance.”
Mike CromwellHi, my name is Mike Cromwell.
Brian DeVaultAnd my name is Brian DeVault,
Mike CromwellAnd welcome to Whiteboard Wednesday. We're here to pick up on our last episode for those who have watched, for the last couple of weeks, been talking about project management and how critical project management is for the success of any kind of technical project implementation. The more complex the project, the more critical project management is.
Mike CromwellSo when we're talking about managed IT services, hypercritical and the larger the enterprise, the more important it is. So, Brian, two episodes ago we talked about the eight tenets of project management. When we touched, we broke down the first step, which is project initiation on the last episode, now we're going into the second part. So walk us through the components of planning the project, and why that's important as a foundational part of the project management plan.
Brian DeVaultSo like you said, after the project initiation, we're going to go into the phase where we're planning the project. And so I've got some steps up here that we've written down to talk through how we handle the process.
Brian DeVaultSo the first step in planning the project is refining the scope. So this is where we're really digging into the details. We're having detail oriented conversations with the client about what the project is set out to accomplish. We're talking numbers of devices, assets, people, you know, technology, whether that software as a service or you know on premise technology, all of those things are being defined.
Brian DeVaultWe're moving on to the team selection. And here we're not just talking about resources like an engineer here or a design build architect here. What we're talking about are named resources. So we're putting or assigning names into the pool. These are the specific people we're going to use during the duration of the project.
Mike CromwellDoes that also include the people on the client side?
Mike CromwellSo that you're defining the roles for both your team...
Brian DeVaultBoth internal and external, and if there are any third parties involved. So maybe it could be vendors, right? You could have a vendor involved as well. You may have a dependency in there as well
Brian DeVaultSo we talk about resourcing. OK, so this is who, how many, when and where, what are the people we're going to need, what are the materials we're going to need, are there dependencies like such as hardware being delivered that we want to structure it around, those types of answers or what we're looking for.
Brian DeVaultLooking at the project budget. So now we're we're putting another level of detail in. So we had a budget established during project initiation. Now we're really putting some detail behind that. We might even be talking about, you know, when that money is spent or when invoices are generated and what they're for and so forth.
Brian DeVaultAnd then going into a detailed timeline. So now we're putting dates down, says we're going to be finished with you know the first set of tasks on Wednesday and then the next set on Friday. And we're really getting that schedule dialed into a day by day granular basis.
Brian DeVaultWe're starting to conduct some risk analysis so as we drive the detail into that project, it's going to allow us to see, OK, we've got a lot going on in week two and going into week three. So we know there's inherently more risk involved there. And so we might see how we mitigate that by maybe having a backup resource or something like that where we can can help mitigate some of that risk.
Brian DeVaultAnd then finally putting that quality assurance plan in place so, you know, throughout the duration of the project, you're going to want to ensure that you're maintaining very high quality at every step. And so this is where you put a plan together so that you can address some of those issues, things like performance to budget reports, performance to timeline reports. Those are examples of QA activities that we're going to produce throughout the course of the project, but we're establishing those parameters during this planning phase.
Mike CromwellThis step can vary depending upon complexity project, but as a general rule of thumb, you know it's simple to highlight complex projects, how long does this step typically take?
Brian DeVaultThis should be one to two days.
Mike CromwellWhat happens if you don't get this part right?
Brian DeVaultIf you've got the wrong team defined up front or the wrong resources engaged, then that's going to be a major problem when you reach the execution phase, which is our next phase, things like refining the scope. So the number of assets, the technology involved, all of those things, if we missed the mark there, then we potentially fail on the overall project.
Mike CromwellCritical step is the foundation stay tuned for next week's whiteboard Wednesday. We're going to dive into execution.
Brian DeVaultThat's right.
Mike CromwellAlright, look forward to it. Stay tuned for next week's whiteboard Wednesday.
Last week, Brian and Mike discussed project initiation and the vital steps needed to kick off a project. This week, Brian and Mike will be diving deeper into the seven pillars NETRIO utilizes in order to effectively move forward after project planning.
Refine The Scope
We have already defined the scope during project initiation, but it is now time to revisit what was discussed and really start digging into this. This step should involve detail-oriented discussion with clients or third-party vendors about what the goal is we are going to accomplish. Nail down things like numbers of devices, assets, people, technology, and other important details pertaining to the individual situation.
Team selection is a step that takes place to define internal and external people and what each party’s role will be for the duration of the project. Defining this solidly at the planning phase will allow for smooth communication throughout the project.
According to Wrike, “A resource is a necessary asset whose main role is to help carry out a certain task or project. A resource can be a person, a team, a tool, finances, and time.” This is the step to identify materials needed, dependencies, and hardwares and structured toward the end goal.
The budget has already been defined, but we will take another detailed look at it in this step. This step is a good time to start thinking about where the budget is allocated and when and where that money may be spent. Additionally, define how you will invoice your client during this step.
The timeline has already been identified, but now we are securing dates. During this step, assign different tasks with the completion date. This will allow the project to stay on track as we move through the other tenets.
As we continue to drive detail into the project, this will allow us to better access the risk. Once the timeline is defined, that will allow you to take a look at the overview and pinpoint which points of the project might inherently allow more risk, and move forward accordingly.
PMLearningSolutons defines Quality assurance as an audit function that evaluates the actual project quality results against the planned or intended results to ensure that the appropriate processes are being employed by the project team. “Assuring” quality implies ensuring the project quality requirements are being achieved.”
This blog post is part of NETRIO’s weekly White Board Wednesday series. Follow along on Linkedin and YouTube each week as Brian and Mike discuss use cases, new technology, and trends. The goal is to provide insights for enterprise customers and channel partners, trying to solve complex problems using technology.