Good planning is key to success in project management. A good plan must be backed by people and efficient implementation, of course. That being said, it is a good plan that allows facilitating the entire process of project implementation. This is why we provide you with these 20 guidelines for planning that will give you the best results.
1. Good planning equals no rush
A team, willing to meet their deadlines, may perform their tasks inaccurately, without checks or validation: all that to make it on time. As a result, a project – even if completed on time – will require corrections, which take more time than if the tasks were performed well at first take.
2. Effective deadline planning
You have to take a lot of variables and possible scenarios into consideration when devising a plan. Remember that it is not about the quickest implementation of a project, but about it meeting the set requirements and being as effective as possible.
According to studies conducted by KPMG, 60% of projects fail because their deadline is shorter than a year. Therefore, setting a feasible deadline is key.
3. Detailed planning of individual project stages
How to prepare a project plan? Divide it into smaller chunks and activities and set timeframes. Identify and work out constituent tasks, delegate them to adequate people and set their deadlines or determine their duration. Knowing how much time is needed to complete the specific number of constituent tasks, you can make an educated guess on how long the given project stage will take.
4. Make use of Gantt charts
Those charts brilliantly depict the entire path of a project, all of its implementation stages. The Gantt chart is a great tool for planning and controlling deadlines of your projects. If you want to get the best results, you need comprehensive software for project management, for instance IC Project or Jira.
5. Present planning methods
A good plan of action cannot look too far ahead or account for all possible scenarios and variables. Devising such a plan would be very time consuming and it would not be cost effective. Not to mention that it is impossible to predict far future.
6. Flexible planning methods
One of your team members may have an idea how to speed up or improve the project, but they will not be able to put words into action because of your lack of flexibility. Of course, this does not mean that you should abandon your plan altogether. That being said, you have to remember to adapt it to the changing situation.
7. Planning your priorities – how to set them?
You have to keep analysing and prioritising all actions so that your team knows what to focus on. It is often the case that instead of more urgent tasks, the team tackles tasks with a longer deadline. How to prioritise most effectively when planning? Needless to say, proper tools will come in handy – currently, software for task management or, in this case, management of entire projects feature many functions that are useful for planning.
8. Effective planning? In group only!
If you want your plan to be effective and to end with all your assumptions met, it must be implemented efficiently: therefore, all your team members have to support it. This simply means that you have to negotiate and talk with them. Do you need more knowledge about team management? Use our special tips.
9. Make them feel included in the process of project creation
People will be much more eager to implement a project if they feel that they are a part of it. There is no better way to achieve this than taking their ideas into account. Not only will they have space to indicate errors or give better solutions to existing problems, but it will also give you some relief.
10. How to plan?
You might want to start by asking yourself some specific questions:
- What is your goal?
- What is your budget?
- When will the project be finished?
- What resources do you have?
- How would you like to finish the project?
- How will you react if changes will be required during its implementation?
- What will happen if one of your team members is unavailable for some time?
11. Planning and tracking process
Thanks to answers to these questions, you will start to see what scope, plan of action, budget and other project-related requirements you have. You will also learn about the roles of all project participants and mentally prepare for unforeseen obstacles.
12. Effective planning without generic goals
Setting vague goals is not a good idea. An example of a vague goal might be an increase in sales or boost in production volume over the course of a month. Achieving such goals is difficult. However, if you set a goal of boosting sales by 30% or increasing production by 1000 pieces of a specific product, you will have a much easier time planning it.
13. Plan completion of several tasks simultaneously
Avoid horizontal planning, where task X starts only after task Y finishes. It will considerably slow down the implementation. By focusing on one task at a time only, you may end up having team members who have nothing to do because they are waiting for someone else to finish their job. This results in an unnecessary waste of time.
14. Plan well with a calendar
Schedules are critical in the implementation phase. This is why you should use an interactive calendar. This is where the Internet gives you a wide array of products to choose from – you can use a regular calendar, such as Google Calendar, or a calendar combined with project management in IC Project, for instance. See what suits you best.
15. Best planning effects result from constant access to information
In addition to developing your calendar, make sure that all team members use it and have access to it. Recording and sharing all deadlines, dates of meetings, audits and progress evaluations as well as other significant dates will allow each project participant to prepare better for their job. Set all tasks in such a way that they can be completed on time and do not collide with other instructions.
16. Count your resources
When devising a good plan of action, it is imperative that you deftly plan how your resources will be used. Double count all that you have at your disposal: your people, materials, funds and time.
17. Check how long they will last
Determine whether your resources are actually sufficient or when you may run out of them. There is nothing worse than suddenly realising that your resources are lacking in the middle of project implementation. This will result in a range of unpleasant consequences.
18. Have a plan B
If any of your team members quits or becomes ill, you have to know who to substitute them with. Therefore, good planning means readiness for change. Make sure that everyone works with someone who can take over at least a part of the duties of such a team member and who will facilitate the onboarding process of the substitute.
19. Document everything
Make sure to document all actions – both successes and failures. All that can be useful when implementing new projects in the future.
20. What are the ingredients of a good plan?
When devising a plan, keep several things in mind:
- Focus on the result. Do not rely on vague and generic goals. Set simple ones, which can be verified and measured.
- Devise a plan of action which is flexible, that is one that assumes performance of several tasks at the same time. It will allow avoiding idle time and resource wasting.
- A good plan is a plan which accelerates working on a project. If it sets a deadline that is too far into the future, it may deflate the motivation of your team members. They can be bored and tired or erroneously assume that if there is so much time for implementation, they can work less efficiently and effectively.
- People matter. Remember to account for the ideas of your entire team in a plan so that they feel that they have a say in what the given plan will look like.
We hope that our top 20 guidelines on how to plan to get the best results will help you devise a good plan and that its implementation will proceed without any complications.