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Project planning: that is what matters

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The project management discipline combines many focuses, methods and requirements. The overriding goal is the successful completion, accompanied from the initial consideration to the final acceptance. This is an essential step before starting operational work Project planning. But what exactly does this mean, how does it work in everyday life and what does good project planning look like?

What is project planning?

Since project planning is closely linked to projects as such, what a project is should be defined in advance.

"Temporary, relatively innovative and risky task of considerable complexity, which due to its difficulty and importance usually requires a separate project management (PM)." - Gabler Economic Lexicon

Project planning is about lay the foundations to get a project off the ground. This also includes the planning of the timing, the Scope of tasks, costs and resources as well as the Definition of goals. The next sections show how the individual modules are implemented in practice.

Project planning in practice

According to the project management phases, the project planning fits best into the second phase, the planning phase. At this point it is specifically about the elaboration of the project and the tasks. Basically, however, it can be said: The project planning is involved in all phases, as it lays the foundation for what is done and in what form. Planning also helps to identify and assess risks in advance.

In addition, it is always present to assess how well the planning is reflected in everyday life. Especially with unexpected changesthat require adjustments, shows the quality. The start of project planning, when the project manager and his team come together, is usually the kick-off meeting. It is not uncommon for external project consultants to participate in the planning and to involve the stakeholders or managing directors who were identified in the project environment analysis.

Project planning is clearly the be-all and end-all in project management and has a significant impact on success. Failure, according to a study by the Project Management Institute (PMI)

  • 39% of unsuccessful projects improper preparation for requirements
  • 28% of unsuccessful projects inappropriate cost calculation
  • 26% of unsuccessful projects inappropriate timing

Project planning templates for recurring topics

Good planning is often more than half the battle in projects - especially if you have regularly recurring topics or processes. Then you can use suitable project planning templates to establish standard processes in your company that you can refer to again and again.

The blueprints come in many forms as Template for project planning with Excel as well as a function in modern project planning tools. Once you have a successful Project planning example saved as a template, you can also use the Lessons Learned to continuously optimize it and keep getting better.

The 5 steps of project planning

In practice, the project planning can basically be in Subdivide 5 stepswhich the article illuminates below.

  1. Prepare work breakdown structure (WBS)
  2. Create a project schedule
  3. Create a schedule
  4. Capacity planning
  5. Project controlling

1. Prepare the work breakdown structure

The work breakdown structure (PSP), often referred to as the “mother of all plans”, is the one in many companies Basis of project planning and thus the first step or the first project planning phase. Be on the PSP all content mapped and networked with each other. First select the desired structure (e.g. sorted by topic, phase or department). When you create a work breakdown structure, you then select the scheme that follows - top-down, bottom-up or yo-yo - and place the tasks.

All tasks in a hierarchical order

Visually, the PSP corresponds to a Tree structure or one organization chart. It usually consists of 3-4 components, namely the project as a superordinate level, including the sub-projects, which are followed by the work packages. Optionally, the PSP can also be coded. With the PSP behind you, the next planning steps follow.

2. Create a project schedule

The second step in project planning is the project schedule (PAP). While structural planning places particular emphasis on bringing together and structuring all content and tasks, the PAP ensures that all the resulting processes are mapped. The focus of the PAP is on the Order of individual activities. This creates clarity about

  • which processes are interdependent
  • which tasks can be processed at the same time

Work out relationships between tasks

The project schedule ensures that everyone Relationships between the work packages are clear. This supports targeted processing and ensures that no predecessor or successor tasks are overlooked.

3. Create a schedule

The schedule is closely linked to the project schedule, as it continues exactly where the PAP ends in the project planning. Often these steps can also be combined. In both cases, the processes including the sequence should be mapped, if you create a schedule, then assign specific dates to the tasks for your sequence. Hence, this step is also often Schedule called. There are various methods of displaying the schedule.

Map appointments with the Gantt chart

Has proven to be one of the most popular bar graph, often in the form of the Gantt chart. The Gantt diagram combines the representation of the individual task packages including the relationships and their distribution on a timeline. Each task is displayed as a bar, the length of which corresponds to the duration between the start and end date. This means that it is always clear at a glance when and for how long a task should be processed and what the overall schedule looks like. An alternative option is that Network plan technology.

When scheduling should always be one sufficient buffer planned in order to be able to react to unexpected developments without jeopardizing the success of the project. There are various methods for doing this in time management.

4. Capacity planning

As soon as the tasks have been planned in terms of content and time, the next important project planning phase follows: capacity planning (also: resource planning). This is about the allocation of the planned and existing financial, time and human resources. Furthermore, there will also be Work equipment how machines or computers are factored in.

Keep track of your workload & avoid overload

Careful and forward-looking capacity planning is particularly important, since the resources mentioned are available to a limited extent and may also be required in other locations if necessary. Otherwise arise Bottlenecks, congestion and conflicts. This in turn means that tasks cannot be processed, are delayed and the project goal is endangered. As with time planning, you should therefore always work with a buffer when planning resources.

5. Project controlling

At the end, the project controlling moves into focus. The tasks include:

  • Accompany planning, overview services, resources and times
  • Classify projects in business activities
  • Check quality & progress regularly
  • React to unexpected changes and initiate countermeasures

Constantly controlling and evaluating

So the project controlling is from planning to completion a constant for steering and control. It is not about monitoring the performance as such, but about ensuring whether goals are achieved or are at risk. Depending on the company, there are sometimes separate areas that deal with project controlling and establish successful processes as project planning examples or templates.

Optionally, external consultants can also help with a neutral view. In smaller teams, the project manager also takes care of controlling.

Conclusion: project planning is the heart of project management

No question: the Project planning is at the heart of project management. It creates the basis for a successful conclusion, because it maps everything from the planning of individual activities to the allocation of resources. With good planning, you as a project manager are also prepared for unexpected adjustments. At the same time, you have a convincing basis for the kick-off meeting and discussions with stakeholders.

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Mahir Kulalic writes in the factro blog with a passion for technology, tools and trends.