Planning a project
Planning a project

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Planning a project

1 The planning phase

Once the project brief has been agreed by the project sponsors and approved by the main stakeholders, you can move into the detailed planning phase. The project plan can become a working tool that helps to keep the project team focused on the project's tasks and activities and points them towards completion. It enables managers to keep track of resources, time and progress towards achieving objectives.

All projects are different and the planning for each will be different. The difficulty with planning a unique activity is that there is no prototype from which to predict all the work that will need to be done, so the plan must evolve as work proceeds. Reviewing any similar projects that have been completed within the same organisation or in a similar setting to identify lessons that could be applied in a new project can be helpful.

Planning can be approached by asking a series of questions:

  • What actions are needed?
  • By when are these actions needed?
  • Who is going to do them?
  • What resources are required?
  • What other work is not going to be done?
  • How shall we know if it is working?

Discussing the issues to produce a joint plan with the team usually creates a sense of commitment that can be crucial to the project's success. Identifying who needs to be communicated with at the different stages can be useful here. (Below is a discussion and an example of a communications matrix to help you with this.)

This course examines the various components of a project plan, and introduces a number of tools and techniques to aid planning.

The communications matrix

A communications matrix is a way of noting who needs to be consulted and at what stage. It can be a formal chart or rough notes, but its purpose is to help minimise the problems that arise when people feel they have not been consulted. The communications matrix below shows an example of a communications matrix for putting a new building unit into use.

A communications matrix

Stages Operations Director Area Manager Site Manager Marketing Director Equipment Suppliers Fittings Suppliers
Initial plan
After first site meeting
Operation of unit agreed
On-site work nearing end
Start operations
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