Project planning: 8 steps to a successful project


In this project planning phase, you will establish budgets, objectives based on contractual milestones, and the necessary sources and documents. You will also need to conduct a risk and opportunity analysis, set up the change management process, and develop project communication guidelines. In other words, determining the tasks to be assigned to your team is like gathering forces in the initiation phase.

The planning phase is crucial in project management, as it shapes the project and defines the objectives, deliverables, and tasks needed to achieve them. It involves close collaboration between team members and can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, but it is essential to the success of the project.

[Also read: what are the 5 phases of project management ]

What is project planning?

Project planning is the discipline of determining the steps and resources needed to complete a project within a given time frame. To do this, a project planning method is used to break down the process into different steps.

This is the phase that comes right after the project initiation phase.

During the planning phase, you will establish the steps necessary to achieve the project objectives with an indication of the critical path of the project.

During this project planning phase, team members focus on requirements, tasks, timelines, and specific activities. The project manager works with each team member to validate the design, establish a list of tasks within the scope of work, and set the project budget.


The following steps are essential to successful project planning 

1- Define the objectives of the project

Project planning begins with a crucial step: the precise definition of objectives and expected results. The team members must agree on these objectives and on the measurement methods to be used. It is important that these objectives are clear and quantifiable so that everyone knows what they are expected to accomplish and can evaluate their own contribution.

Thus, it is essential to define from the beginning of the project the objectives to be reached as well as the organization of the people responsible for the production.

There are several strategies to help in this planning; we will retain the SMART strategy.


The SMART goal method, which translates into :
  • Specific: The objective must be clearly defined, specifying the actions to be taken, the people responsible, and the method to be followed. It is important to avoid any ambiguity.
  • Measurable: The objective should specify the expected results in terms of quantity, quality, cost, etc.
  • Achievable: The objective must be achievable with the resources currently available in order to motivate staff to commit to it.
  • Relevant: The objective must be relevant and consistent with the position held, the department to which the person belongs, and the overall objectives of the company.
  • Time-bound: It is important to define a specific time frame for achieving the goal. It is also recommended to break it down into milestones, each with a deadline, to facilitate follow-up.

This method is highly valued by project teams because of its ability to foster communication, facilitate the establishment of a clear roadmap, and track performance indicators.


2- Define the project deliverables

The second phase is to identify the deliverables, which are the concrete results such as products, reports, or services. Team members must determine which deliverables are needed to meet the project’s objectives and establish quality criteria for each deliverable to ensure that it is produced to high standards.

  • How do you want to enhance the system in terms of functionality?
  • What are the tasks that the system must accomplish?
  • What are the deliverables to be provided throughout the project?
  • How will you prove to stakeholders that their requirements have been met?
  • What documentation will be needed to support the system once it is deployed?


3- Task definitions

The third phase consists of identifying the tasks required to achieve the project objectives. The team members must determine the responsibilities of each person and the resources needed to complete these tasks. It is crucial to define the dependencies between the different tasks to ensure a smooth progression of the project.


4- Development of a detailed project plan

The project plan should contain detailed information about the tasks to be performed, the dependencies between them, and the expected start and end dates for each. It should also take into account the resources required and the associated costs. In addition, the plan should include a risk assessment and a strategy for managing risks.


5- Definition of the roles and responsibilities of each team member

It is essential that each team member be assigned a specific role and well-defined tasks. It is crucial that everyone fully understands their role and responsibilities to ensure that the project progresses efficiently.


6- Establish a budget

It is important to gather information about the cost of the project and develop an estimated budget so that the team can understand the resources needed to complete the work. When setting the initial budget, it is best to use ranges rather than absolute values.

In addition to the direct costs paid to vendors, it is important to consider indirect costs such as reduced employee productivity during the period of learning the new software, as well as the benefits that the system may generate in the long term.


7- Identify the risks

Identify potential risks to your project by considering the possibility that time or cost will exceed original estimates. Develop contingency plans to address these risks and ensure project success.


8- Obtain approval of the project plan

The last step is to get approval for the developed plan. To do this, it is necessary to present the plan to various stakeholders, such as clients, project sponsors, and team members. This approval is crucial as it ensures that all stakeholders have a clear understanding of the project’s objectives, deliverables, tasks, and responsibilities.


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