8 Keys to Effective Project Planning
Managing projects can be challenging for many reasons. Lack of clear communication with a client regarding priorities and expectations often causes a project to go off track, resulting in failure to meet the project objectives. Unclear direction to project staff can lead to budget overruns and scheduling delays.
Devoting time to thoughtful planning at the outset of a project is essential to project success. This blog outlines eight keys to effective planning that will help projects run smoothly and improve their overall performance.
- Identify Stakeholder Needs
- Stakeholders include anyone affected by or involved in the project, such as the client, regulators, project team, etc.
- Dedicate time to discuss needs and expectations with stakeholders, and then prioritize them.
- Managers should focus on listening to the client in order to understand their needs.
- Develop Project Objectives
- Formulate clear project objectives based on discussions with the stakeholders to ensure that everyone has the same expectations.
- Establish Project Deliverables and Timelines
- Divide the project into tasks which correspond to the budget items presented in the project proposal.
- Set target dates to complete each task based on deliverable due dates and reasonable assumptions regarding the work.
- Develop a Detailed Project Schedule with Key Milestones
- Identify specific tasks associated with each project deliverable.
- Assign responsibility to complete each task to individual or multiple team members.
- Establish due dates for each task and identify the critical path for getting the work done.
- Create an overall project schedule using a Gantt chart or similar tool to depict the tasks, duration, and completion dates to assist in project tracking.
- Link the Project Schedule and Budget
- Assign time and expense amounts to the specific tasks that total the overall project budget.
- Inform all team members of the project budget amounts for each of the tasks that have been assigned to them; this will alert everyone to the number of hours allocated to complete each task.
- Define Roles and Responsibilities Among the Project Team
- In addition to specifying who is responsible for completing each task, the Manager must define the roles of the team members.
- Staff must understand who they report to in terms of tracking progress, handling issues that arise during the project, and quality control over deliverables.
- Establish a Communication Plan to Keep the Project Moving Forward
- Communication is vital to the success of any project.
- Regular meetings with the client and internal meetings with the project team are necessary to help the project to progress as intended.
- In addition to regular meetings, appropriate team members should convene as soon as possible whenever issues occur that impact the project scope of work, schedule, or budget. This will allow appropriate action to be taken to keep the project on track.
- Kick Off the Project Once Planning Is Completed
- When these planning steps are completed, the Manager ensures that everyone is on board and project implementation begins.
Early planning and frequent communication are imperative to ensuring that all stakeholders are in alignment with respect to the project objectives. Walden’s professionals are committed to following a structured project planning process, as we set up projects for success. For information on Walden’s engineering and environmental consulting services, call 516-701-1681.