Project Planning and Project Management

Project Planning is a process for defining the objectives of a project and determining the resources required to achieve these objectives. It encompasses defining the project’s scope, timelines, budget, risks, communication plan, and team organisation.

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Project Plan

A project plan is a written documentation that describes how the project will be executed, what steps will be taken, what resources are needed, and when each step will be carried out. The plan serves as a guide for the Project Manager and the team, providing a structure to keep the project on track.

Project Planning is an important part of Project Management because it helps to reduce the uncertainty around the project execution and ensures that all involved parties agree on the project goals and how they will be achieved.

A well-thought-out project plan can also help to identify and manage any potential risks and problems in advance, reducing the likelihood of project failures or delays.

Project Planning

It is essential that your project plan starts with well-defined, measurable, and communicated goals. When your goals are clear and understood, it is easier to avoid misunderstandings during the project's course.

Intermediate goals and potential Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) help you steer and adjust in longer or larger projects. This also creates a deeper understanding within the team about the project's progress, fostering engagement and opening up dialogue.

Ensure that you map out the project's conditions and stakeholders. This could involve different requirements and influencers, the budget, resources, or external factors that you learn about through an environmental analysis that you might need to carry out as part of the Project Planning.

A risk within Project Planning is an unexpected event that could negatively affect the people, processes, technology, or resources involved in the project. Identify and analyse potential risks so that stakeholders and the project team can address them.

It is very helpful to document risks early and engage in dialogue with stakeholders about their significance and potential impact on the project. Ask yourself what could affect the project, when this event might occur, how likely it is, what impact it could have on the project, and what factors could lead to the risk being realised.

When projects fail, it can be because key people in various ways drop out and, in longer or larger projects, it often has to do with the project communication not functioning over time or as broadly as it should.

A key here could be the composition of the project group and the mandate that the Project Manager brings into and during the project. It is important to define the roles and responsibilities in the project team and manage expectations from both the team and stakeholders.

It is also a good idea to document the entire project plan, including the budget (focusing on costs), responsibilities (and roles), timeline, and goals (including quality goals). This way, both stakeholders and the team can approve or at least understand the project plan and any project communication plan.

You can base this on a template, and if none exists, you can create one for the future. Also, remember to have Plan B ready and preferably take out a bit of extra time for unforeseen events.

Project Management

Project Management helps you and your team structure, execute, and track the activities that create value for your project and move it forward. Project Management is about managing the tasks that your project consists of.

Although implementation is clearly linked with Project Management, Project Management can also be considered to encompass project planning, team organisation, Risk Management, and some form of final reporting that tells whether the goals have been achieved, the value created, and what should be taken to the next project.

Engage the team early and make sure everyone understands their tasks and responsibilities. Communication and collaboration are essential to ensure that the project moves forward and according to plan. It's a good idea to discuss the project timeline with the team early on so you can collectively assess whether it is realistic.

Gartner has observed that numerous Project Managers are focusing on enhancing collaboration, communication, and reporting, and that currently it encompasses more than just delivering projects on time and within budget. Instead, it pertains to ensuring the anticipated Business Outcomes and value.

Focus on achieving the outcome rather than merely completing activities. It is crucial to be flexible and adapt the project plan when necessary to ensure that the project attains the desired results. Successful Project Management is characterised by the ongoing development and refinement of methodologies and practices.

It is a prudent idea to employ a method to visualise and communicate the project. For example, through a Gantt chart, milestone schedule, or a Kanban board. The Kanban board is generally more suited to an agile Team and even more so within an agile organisation.

PMO and Portfolio Management:

Larger organisations or companies that manage multiple projects usually have a PMO and a project portfolio which is administered via software.

A PMO (Project Management Office) is a group within an organisation that gathers information about projects and programs. The purpose of a PMO is to provide an overview of ongoing projects and programs, to assist the organisation in making strategic decisions about its project portfolio.

A Project Portfolio is a collection of various projects that an organisation has decided to undertake or is already involved in. The project portfolio can include projects that are underway or planned to commence.

A Project Portfolio provides the organisation with an overview of the projects and helps to prioritise and manage resources more effectively. A Project Portfolio can also be used to assess the overarching strategic goals and objectives of the projects and make adjustments to the project portfolio as needed.

Project Tools

Utilising a digital Project Management tool typically makes project handling more efficient, and it becomes easier to collaborate, coordinate, provide feedback, and monitor the project’s progress.

Start based on what you require, but do consider these guiding examples when searching for a tool for your project control:

  • Agile creation of projects through shared templates.
  • Support for classic project models, agile models, and hybrid models.
  • Smart and simple management of project plans (create and modify).
  • Import of project information from MS Excel and integration with MS Project.
  • Kanban overviews for agile planning.
  • WBS display of projects and resources down to the activity level.
  • Gantt scheduling of projects (drag and drop) with critical path management.
  • Link to to-do lists, documents, and risk profiles.
  • Definition of cost and revenue principles for projects.
  • Automated calculation of completion degree based on completed activities.
  • Automated creation of projects from quotes and bids.
  • Direct management of resource requirements/Resource Planning linked to projects.
  • Basic document management (alternative integration with an external DMS solution).
  • Flexible definition of cost elements and asset and investment types.
  • Top-down budgeting in project structures with respect to time (hours/days) as well as costs.
  • Flexible definition of time spans – months, quarters, and years.
  • Smooth analysis of plans relative to actuals (ongoing projects) in conjunction with budgeting, forecasting, and replanning.
  • Configurable models for Project Lifecycle Management (workflows and approvals).
  • Configurable status reports – with automatic distribution via email.
  • Automatic calculation of key figures (efficiency, profitability, etc.).
  • Rapid reporting of completion status – earned value, percentage completion.
  • Consolidated overviews/dashboards with all essential information aggregated.
  • Configurable risk models.
  • Graphical description of risk profiles.
  • Flexible models for allocating resources to projects (project-driven / resource-driven).
  • Allocation of resources based on competency requirements and availability.
  • Definition of workflows for inquiry and approval.
  • Reservation (inquiry/booking) of named resources or simulated resources (roles).
  • Automatic calculation of availability relative to calendars and bookings in other projects.
  • Automatic management of booking period based on linked project activities.
  • Management of recurring bookings and absence.
  • Simulation of resource allocations.
  • Management of competencies and competency matrices.
  • Search for resources based on competency.
  • Resource and occupancy overview.
  • Occupancy forecast, including simulations.
  • Definition of calendars, availability, and absence.
  • Definition of pricing rules for costs and revenues (if relevant).

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