Published here June, 2008.

Introduction | Book Structure
What We Liked: Project Initiation | Project Planning | Project Execution | Project Closure
Downside | Summary

What We Liked - Project Planning

Jason continues:
"Once the scope of the project has been defined in the terms of reference, the project enters the planning phase. This involves creating a:

  • Project plan outlining the activities, tasks, dependencies and timeframes;
  • Resource plan listing the labor, equipment and materials required;
  • Financial plan identifying the labor, equipment and materials costs;
  • Quality plan providing quality targets, assurance and control measures;
  • Risk plan highlighting potential risks and actions to be taken to mitigate those risks;
  • Acceptance plan listing the criteria to be met to gain customer acceptance;
  • Communications plan describing the information needed to inform stakeholders;
  • Procurement plan identifying products to be sourced from external suppliers.

"At this point the project will have been planned in some detail and is ready to he executed."[7]

"By now, the project costs and benefits have been documented, the objectives and scope have been defined, the project team has been appointed and a formal project office environment established. It is now time to undertake detailed planning to ensure that the activities performed during the execution phase of the project are properly sequenced, resourced, executed and controlled. The activities shown in Figure [3] are undertaken.

Figure 3: Project planning activities
Figure 3: Project planning activities

"Create a project plan: The first step in the project planning phase is to document the project plan. A 'work breakdown structure' (WBS) is identified which includes a hierarchical set of phases, activities and tasks to be undertaken to complete the project. After the WBS has been agreed, an assessment of the level of effort required to undertake each activity and task is made. The activities and tasks are then sequenced, resources are allocated and a detailed project schedule is formed. This project plan is the key tool used by the project manager to assess the progress of the project throughout the project life cycle.

"Create a resource plan: Immediately after the project plan is formed, the level of resource required to undertake each of the activities and tasks listed within the project plan will need to be allocated. Although generic resource may have already been allocated in the project plan, a detailed resource plan is required to identify the:

  • Type of resource required, such as labor, equipment and materials;
  • Quantity of each type of resource required;
  • Roles, responsibilities and skill sets of all human resource required;
  • Specifications of all equipment resource required;
  • Items and quantities of material resource required.

"A schedule is assembled for each type of resource so that the project manager can review the resource allocation at each stage in the project.

"Create a financial plan: A financial plan is created to identify the total quantity of money required to undertake each phase in the project (in other words, the budget). The total cost of labor, equipment and materials is calculated and an expense schedule is defined which enables the project manager to measure the forecast spend versus the actual spend throughout the project. Detailed financial planning is an extremely important activity within the project, as the customer will expect the final solution to have been delivered within the allocated budget.

"Create a quality plan: Meeting the quality expectations of the customer can be a challenging task. To ensure that the quality expectations are clearly defined and can reasonably be achieved, a quality plan is documented. The quality plan:

  • Defines the term 'quality' for the project.
  • Lists clear and unambiguous quality targets for each deliverable. Each quality target provides a set of criteria and standards to be achieved to meet the expectations of the customer.
  • Provides a plan of activities to assure the customer that the quality targets will be met (in other words, a quality assurance plan).
  • Identifies the techniques used to control the actual quality level of each deliverable as it is built (in other words, a quality control plan).

"Not only is it important to review the quality of the deliverables produced by the project, it is also important to review the quality of the management processes that produced them. A quality plan will summarize each of the management processes undertaken during the project, including time, cost, quality, change, risk, issue, procurement, acceptance and communications management.

"Create a risk plan: The next step is to document all foreseeable project risks within a risk plan. This plan also identifies the actions required to prevent each risk from occurring, as well as reduce the impact of the risk should it eventuate. Developing a clear risk plan is an important activity within the planning phase, as it is necessary to mitigate all critical project risks prior to entering the execution phase of the project.

"Create an acceptance plan: To deliver the project successfully, you will need to gain full acceptance from the customer that the deliverables produced by the project meet or exceed requirements. An acceptance plan is created to help achieve this, by clarifying the completion criteria for each deliverable and providing a schedule of acceptance reviews. These reviews provide the customer with the opportunity to assess each deliverable and provide formal acceptance that it meets the requirements as originally stated.

"Create a communications plan: Prior to the execution phase, it is also necessary to identify how each of the stakeholders will be kept informed of the progress of the project. The communications plan identifies the types of information to be distributed to stakeholders, the methods of distributing the information, the frequency of distribution, and responsibilities of each person in the project team for distributing the information.

"Create a procurement plan: The last planning activity within the planning phase is to identify the elements of the project to be acquired from external suppliers. The procurement plan provides a detailed description of the products (that is, goods and services) to be acquired from suppliers, the justification for acquiring each product externally as opposed to from within the business, and the schedule for product delivery. It also describes the process for the selection of a preferred supplier (the tender process), and the ordering and delivery of the products (the procurement process).

"Contract the suppliers: Although external suppliers may be appointed at any stage of the project, it is usual to appoint suppliers after the project plans have been documented but prior to the execution phase of the project. Only at this point will the project manager have a clear idea of the role of suppliers and the expectations for their delivery. A formal tender process is undertaken to identify a short list of capable suppliers and select a preferred supplier to initiate contractual discussions with. The tender process involves creating a statement of work, a request for information and request for proposal document to obtain sufficient information from each potential supplier and select the preferred supplier. Once a preferred supplier has been chosen, a contract is agreed between the project team and the supplier for the delivery of the requisite products.

"Perform a phase review: At the end of the planning phase, a phase review is performed. This is a checkpoint to ensure that the project has achieved its objectives as planned."[8]

What We Liked - Project Initiation  What We Liked - Project Initiation

7. Ibid, p4-5
8. Ibid, pp7-10
Home | Issacons | PM Glossary | Papers & Books | Max's Musings
Guest Articles | Contact Info | Search My Site | Site Map | Top of Page