In the planning phase, you develop a scope document that details the scope of the project and a project plan that stipulates how you' re going to go about getting the project done. It is in the planning phase that you begin the design of your project. One element of your design centers around requirements gathering, the outlining of the requirements needed to produce the customer' s product or service. The requirements and scope documents are two (of potentially many) outputs of the planning phase. Another critical outcome is the work breakdown structure (WBS)—a task list that specifies how you' re going to meet the requirements.
Although all of the documents in your project book are important, the scope document is the most important and most fundamental—so fundamental, in fact that I'll spend three chapters talking about it.
The planning phase is also when you develop the actual project plan. In the project plan, you detail each of the steps, identify the project team members who are involved, set up milestones (those points in the project when you've achieved a significant event), elucidate dependencies (steps that hinge on the completion of a previous step), and, in general, outline the things that you'll do to accomplish the project's goals.
Note The project plan is typically created using special software made for just this purpose. Such software is not hard to learn how to run, but does require a little understanding of basic project management principles. Microsoft's Project software is the biggest player in this field, but there are others as well. You can learn more about Microsoft Project and Project Central at www.microsoft.com/project.
In the planning phase, you work hard at defining the plan you'll use to accomplish the business need that this project is going to meet. Because of the plan's important role throughout the project, the planning phase needs to be carefully worked through, complete, concise where possible, and in agreement with the customers, stakeholders, and project sponsors.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.