It’s often tempting to immediately start working on a new project. However, the best course before starting any new project is to take a step back and plan the work. You need to have a better view of everything that needs to happen and how it will be done. This will help you to manage your project better. Planning is invaluable. Yes, it does slow down the process initially, but you’ll hit far fewer roadblocks in the upcoming stages of the process.
What is Project Planning Management?
Contrary to popular belief, project planning isn’t just the list of dates and tasks that tell you what and when to do things. The schedule is only a part of the project plan. Everything you do to set your project up for success is called project planning. It’s the process through which you establish the steps necessary to:
- Define the objective of your project
- The scope of the required tasks must be made clear.
- Develop the task list
As you have to work out how to achieve your goals, project planning activities tend to be varied. No two projects are similar, as they have wildly different objectives. Planning mainly consists of defining the things you need to do to get things done and placing the structure to make that happen.
Structure in this context means the process and governance that keeps everything running smoothly. They are everything like the budgeting process, change management process, how deliverables are signed off when the time comes or important quality measures.
At the end of project planning, you should have a document or a set of documents detailing everything you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it.
The Necessity of a Project Plan
The project planning phase comes at the beginning of the project right after you’ve been approved to go ahead and before the delivery phase (where the work is actually done). Planning at the beginning will save us time later. Planning at the beginning will ensure:
- people are going to be available on the right dates.
- Your financial process will face no problems as you’ve already planned how to pay invoices
- Good quality outcomes as what quality measures are going to be used are already planned.
You can avoid a lot of headaches later as the process everyone is expected to follow is laid down. No one can complain later about your decisions as they’ve known the deal since the beginning.
Project planning also helps in the monitoring process. You can compare what you are currently doing to what you said you were going to do. This serves to provide a good reality check. You can also change your plans if a project goes out of track.
Duration of Project Planning.
How long it can take to plan a project can vary significantly. The ideal way to estimate the time would be to study similar projects from the past. Talking to the project manager is also a great idea. They can give you insights on whether or not the time was sufficient. A project management tool can be handy to check how much time previous projects took. The management tool should have the functionality to archive old project schedules and make the data available to the staff. When it comes to project management tools, Odoo is the best option. Odoo is an easy to use business management software that can help you to run a business efficiently.
Project Planning tools
Many people need to be involved in project planning as it’s all about working out what and how to do things. Tools and techniques you can use to get information from people include:
- One-to-one meetings or interviews
- Gather and validate requirements Surveys or customer focus groups.
During the project planning phase, it’s a great idea to keep sticky notes around you. They are handy for noting down crucial things. Finally, an online project management system like Odoo is a must-have. Ensure that your team has access to the latest version of the project plan.
Elements of a Project Plan
During the project planning phase, a lot of time will be allotted to talking to the team, knowing the perspective of the people who’ll be affected by the project, and planning out how things will hang together.
At the end of the planning phase, you should have a document called the project plan. Many subsidiaries plan together to make up a project plan. The subsidiary plans include:
- A plan to manage HR (Human Resources) of the team in terms of skills and availability.
- A concrete budget plan.
- A good communications plan that’ll dictate who’s going to receive messages about a project and in what format.
- A plan that deals with the risks involved with the project.
- A plan that dictates the quality targets of the project.
Yes, we know that is a lot of documentation. But trust us it’ll pay off.
Realistically, you won’t be creating individual documents. What you’ll really be needing is a project plan that discusses the crucial element of each of these. A giant document detailing how your business works is kind of pointless.
You must ensure that your project plan has enough information so that you know what procedures and processes need to be followed and involved. To avoid surprises later, get your project plan approved by the project sponsor, stakeholders, and your team.
Creating the Project plan
At this point, you probably have a good grasp on building your project plan. Spend time with your team and clarify what things you have to achieve together. Work out the processes that will lead you there and develop an action plan for taking the entire thing forward.
To plan better projects:
- Define the Direction: Identify the goals, vision, and deliverables of the project to make sure everyone is in track and scope.
- Link tasks: Linking tasks will ensure that no new task is started before an older one has been completed. Odoo can automatically do this for you.
- Monitor progress and set baselines: In this stage, you compare the time your project is taking to your original estimation. Odoo makes this process very simple.
- Set up online tools and identify tasks: You have to figure out what tasks must be completed to accomplish the goals you have set up. You may even have to break down tasks into doable subtasks with deadlines. You can put all these into Odoo.
- Assign Resources and help them help you: Assign a piece of equipment, team member, material, or location to each task on your list. Then have the humans track their tasks and time in Odoo.
Managing the Project Plan
Remember that your project plan isn’t a document set in stone. You must constantly refer to it and make appropriate changes as often as you need to. Things in the document, such as your project schedule, might change almost every day. However, things such as cost management processes or procurement plans will barely have any changes to them throughout the life of your project.
If your plan isn’t really working out for you, then think of what you can do to change things. The task of a project plan is to guide your project management. It should not restrict you from doing the right thing. If you must review how you manage project resources, then you should go back and review it. Make any changes necessary, get it approved again, and share the plan with your team.
How to plan a project when there aren’t enough clear answers
Most of the time, you won’t have an answer for every question. It’s very rare that you’ll have all the information during the initial stages of a project. Most managers would want you to get started on the project as soon as possible but not give you the luxury of knowing every single detail. But don’t worry. There are techniques to deal with such uncertainty.
At first, you’ll be going off on assumptions. You’ll use your assumptions to put clauses to your plan. You also document the things that you’re assuming is true at this stage of the plan. You’ll be assuming things like
- The necessary resources required for the project will be available.
- The necessary funds will be available.
- The requested colors will be in line with the brand of the company, and the marketing sign off will not be necessary.
Yeah, you get the picture. If the design team, later on, comes back and says that they want the product to have an entirely new and different palette of colors and that the marketing department needs to approve of that, then it is justifiable for you to say that you need to change the timescales on the schedule to make their demands possible. Your plan was based upon an assumption that turned out to not be true. No one can object to your decisions as everyone agreed on that plan as the document was approved by higher-ups.
Why Odoo is the Best Tool For Project Management and Planning
We’ve already mentioned that Odoo is a business management app. It has hundreds of apps and modules that cover almost every business need you may have. When looking for tools to help with your project planning, there is no better option than Odoo. Odoo’s project management module has a great modern interface that helps you to
- Organize: with a simple drag and drop view to make sure you can easily group tasks at the right stage.
- Schedule: Check the planning of your teams and reschedule as required to keep up with deadlines.
- Plan: keep track of the progress of projects and deadlines with a clear overview.
- Analyze: Maintain a good overview of the status of individual tasks and overall workload.
Odoo can schedule your teams across projects while taking their holidays into account. Upcoming projects can be planned ahead thanks to forecasts based on comparable projects also estimate deadlines with greater accuracy. For increased profitability, you can even compare forecasts with real timesheets.
Your employee’s collaboration can also be enhanced by simplifying your processes. Projects can be broken down into smaller bits and assigned to the team for improved collaboration. Customized stages can be created for each project to increase overall project efficiency.
Odoo also makes sure you’re properly connected to your team by enabling you to attach files or add quick notes to any task. No endless follow-up meetings are necessary. You can communicate with your team through The Chatter, live chat, or write in the shared real-time pad. All of these can be done within a single interface.
Odoo also provides you with dynamic and functional graphs for every task. You can easily maintain and track your projects from any level thanks to a powerful search tool, unique visual interfaces, and functions for grouping and filtering.
The best feature of Odoo is definitely how every app and module is integrated. While working on your project plan, you can easily switch to sales or invoicing modules seamlessly.
There is one thing you should always keep in mind during the project planning phase. Never rush things. Most of the time, if done properly, it will take time. If things are done properly in the initial stages, then we can guarantee that you’ll less likely face roadblocks later down the line. Your work will be much more efficient as your team will have a proper understanding of what they must do and why.
You can guarantee success through great planning. It will give you the confidence of knowing that you have all of your tools, systems, and processes in line to deliver a perfect result.