the essential schedule to follow

There project planning is crucial for businesses. Indeed, companies must manage dozens of different projects themselves segmented into a multitude of tasks shared by many internal and external actors.

This article details the processes usually put at the service of a efficient planning.

What is project planning?

In the project management, falling behind is a recurring problem. Indeed, it is difficult for companies to realistically estimate the real duration of a project carried out for the first time. Calibration becomes more accurate with experience.

However, a properly planned project can limit the risks as well as the extent of its consequences.

First, the setting up a plan implies a reflection on the division into sequences of the project, on the linking of these sequences and on the resources which it will be necessary to allocate to it. These reflections contribute to a better estimate of deadlines and deliverables.

Then the dividing the project into sequences allows, during the development of a project, to see in real time the rate of progress. This makes it possible to anticipate a delay and the risks and to communicate the information upstream to the customer to avoid him a strong disappointment.

project planning

What are the project planning tools?

To view the scheduling of project tasksvarious graphical representations are used, including the PERT network or the Gantt chart which we mentioned above.

These graphs have long been drawn by hand. Today’s computer makes it easier to do this with the help ofonline tools.

Even free project planning software can provide a noticeable productivity boost over paper and pencil. And by paying an often reasonable subscription, you can unlock more advanced project management functions.

Clarify project parameters

Traditionally, the project is divided into stages called “life cycles”. According to the book “Project Management Body of Knowledge”, a reference in terms of management, the five project lifecycles are: initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing.

During the project planning phase, several parameters are determined:

The expected result

It is by the yardstick of this expectation that we will judge the success of a project. The expected result is divided into several criteria gathered in a specification (or in a backlog). These criteria give a first glimpse of the future sequencing of the schedule.

Time and budget allocated

During the project launch phase, a charter is often ratified between the project manager and the management of the company. The amount of resources allocated to the project is provided for by this charter, including especially time and budget.

The challenge for the Project Manager will then be to allocate these resources task by task in an optimal way.

The constitution of the team

It is also during the planning phase that the Project Manager build his team. We must wisely assign the right role to the right person and promote positive synergies between team members to achieve the optimal productivity.

The strategy

Finally, any project must have a plan and a strategy. There are several more or less complex project management methods to implement. In any case, there are two categories: linear methods and agile methods.

Linear methods make it possible to see in the longer term, but agile methods are more reactive to the unexpected and to risks. The Agile method can make it possible to define objectives fairly quickly without changing the date of the deliverables.

Define a to-do list

Once the parameters of the project have been clarified, it is necessary to start dividing it into sequences. You can do it chronologically or by retroplanning.

In principle, we start by setting the intermediate stages (called “milestones”) to identify the major periods of the project. Then, we list the tasks in more detail. We call “task” the achievement that can be accomplished by a person (an employee of the company for example).

Define the logical sequence of project tasks

When we want plan a project coherently, you have to think about linking the tasks together. It is the strategic part of project management in order to fulfill its objectives.

In a classic method of project management, the linear sequence of tasks forms a path to follow to go from the initial stage to the end of the project. This path is called the “project roadmap”.

The tasks are linked together by “dependencies” which are materialized by connecting lines on a graph. A task that must be performed after another is said to be “dependent”.

See also: The best task management software

It is important to think about the dependencies upstream and to represent them in a clear way. It allows a team to collaborate better. If, for example, you are developing software, it is better that the writing of the user manual comes last, as a dependency of the previous tasks.

Indeed, during the progress of the project, development teams may be forced, for technical reasons, to make unforeseen adjustments. In this example, if the user manual was written at the same time as the development, reworking a feature would also involve revising the writing. That would increase the waste of time tenfold.

Create milestones to track the project

In addition, we often cut a schedule with milestones. A milestone marks the end of an execution sequence. It is often materialized by an intermediate meeting. Useful for ensuring the good management of the project and that the accomplishments converge towards the expected result.

Integrate the time factor

To represent the scheduling of tasks, one can use graphs. Two methods are often preferred: the PERT network method and the Gantt chart method. These two methods have the advantage of taking into account the time factor in the accomplishment of each task.

This allows to monitor the progress of a project in real time, and if necessary to recalculate a deadline during its execution.

The PERT network is a method that was developed by the US military during the Cold War. In a PERT network, each task is represented by a circle. In each circle, write the most optimistic time to complete the task in question, and the longest acceptable time.

Then we connect the circles with lines to materialize their dependencies. The most time-consuming series of tasks immediately emerges: this series is said to be critical. We know that it is on this series that we will have to focus the effort provided.

The Gantt chart method allows you to identify tasks on a calendar.

Allocate budget and human resources

In addition to time, you have to manage human resources and the budget. On a graphic representation, one can symbolize for each task the person of the team assigned to its realization. As well as the money that we intend to spend there according to the budget.

During the planning phase, the Project Manager can also create parallel calendars to manage future holidays for his team.

He can also think of tables to manage budgetary contingencies. These tools should be created during the planning phase, as the tempo of project execution will often not allow for this.


What are the 6 steps of planning?

THE 6 planning steps consist in order of:
• Clarify project parameters and plan
• Define a task list
• Define the logical sequence of tasks
• Create milestones
• Integrate the time factor
• Allocate budget and human resources