In this video, Jennifer Bridges, PMP, discusses how you can improve and even perfect project planning using her three-step method.
Here’s a shot of the whiteboard for your reference!
In Review: 3 Tips to Perfect the Project Planning Process
Jennifer said that planning is one of the most important aspects of managing a project. You should always work to improve your planning process, as it sets the foundation for the rest of your project.
By employing a thorough strategy before you start planning your project, you are able to create a project plan that has less room for error. When you do the due diligence and then use the right project management tools to plan, you’ve increased your project’s success rate to come in on time and under budget.
She outlined three ways to get your project plan as close to perfect as possible:
Evaluate Your Process
- What is working vs. what is not working? Don’t make the same mistakes, weed out the stuff that’s not effective and make your project plan more efficient.
- Is your planning team experienced, creative, analytical, etc.? To build effective teams, note the strengths and weaknesses of each team member and apply them to that part of the project in which they’ll excel.
- Are your tools old, new or do you not have any tools? Before planning and certainly executing a project, make sure you pm tools are up to the task. If they’re not, then it’s time to update your software.
- What roadblocks are ahead: too many steps/approval, bureaucracy, etc.? Be sure you know the obstacles so you can chart a path around them and allocated the time necessary to do that.
Use a Tool
- Tools can include: sticky notes, mind mapping, whiteboards, pm software, templates, etc. Tools help you get the work done, of course, but the better the tool, the better your work will be. Project management software comes in many shapes and sizes, so be sure to research the ones that offer the features you need or switch to online tools that can integrate with other programs and simple to import and export.
- Tools can be used for: project setup, breaking down work into tasks, identifying dependencies, estimating time, assigning resources, etc. Again, the best tool is the one that can move from each of these tasks to another without much time or effort on your part.
Plan Your Planning
- Allocate time: you can’t plan well under pressure, so make sure you’ve set aside the right amount of time you’ll need to address all the moving parts of your plan and not overlook or rush through one.
- Include team: your team is your best resource, hired for the skills and experience they bring to the project, so collaborate with them to bring out new ideas and perspectives.
- Cast a vision: from the outset you want to communicate what the project plan is set up to accomplish, and there’s no better way to do this than by inspiring the team with a clear goal.
- Identify roles: people work better when they know what they’re responsible for, and when they know who is responsible for what that will foster better communications, efficiencies and productivity.
- Set ground rules: teams work best when they understand the parameters they’re working in, so be sure to tell them what is okay and what isn’t.
- simplify: the worst thing you can do as you set about planning the plan is overly complicate the matter, which confuses people and bogs down process, so communicate your ideas concisely.
Pro-Tip: Jennifer mentioned the importance of collaborating with your team, and there are so many new ways to collaborate. Looking into what the developing technologies, burgeoning techniques and other ways to use existing tools to further foster collaboration with you team.
Thanks for watching!
Today, we’re talking about three tips to perfect the project planning process. Well, like any professional, project managers should strive to try to continue to do better, specifically with the plan.
I mean, think about it, the plan is what everybody on the team takes and executes for the project. So, there are three tips that we have to make this even better.
So first of all, you want to evaluate your current process. You wanna look at what’s working, and what’s not working. You wanna evaluate your planning team, are they experienced or are they new people? Are they creative in their thinking or are they analytical?
You also want to evaluate the tools that you’re using to plan, are they old tools, are they new and innovative tools that will help you do things faster and more efficiently, or are you using any tools at all?
You also want to evaluate any roadblocks for your planning process. Are there too many steps involved to get the planning done? Are there too many approvals required, and is there a lot of bureaucracy that you have to deal with?
The second thing you wanna look at is your tool. Are you using a tool? And here are some examples of tools that different teams use to plan their project. Some people today still use and quite effectively, I might add, sticky notes. They literally get the team together, and they use sticky notes that they can move around and do their planning, and it makes it quite fun.
Some people use mind mapping, so as they’re doing the brainstorming and planning process, they have somebody using a mind mapping tool to move things around, so it helps them visually see the project.
Some people use whiteboards, that’s really effective to be able to draw things visually, so people can understand and get a better concept of what the project is about.
And then of course, many teams these days are using project management software which definitely helps things become more efficient, especially if they’re online, because people can get in remotely and participate and collaborate with you real-time.
A lot of people today still use templates, and templates helps to make things more simple for you, they can help you replicate processes that you do on a regular ongoing basis. Also, you can use spreadsheets if you need to incorporate or manipulate data.
So, you wanna use these tools to help you set up your project, to break down your work into task, to identify any dependencies, estimate the time for the task, and also assign your resources.
So, the third tip is to plan for your planning process, and that we mean, actually allocate time for the planning process. It is one of the most important pieces of the project that you can be doing.
Also, you want to include your team, you want their insights, and you want their input. I mean, most teams have that one organized person who just wants to take the plan and just do it and give it to everybody, thinking to make it more efficient, but again, there are many traps to that that we actually talked about on some of the other whiteboards.
But you wanna cast a vision, visually cast the vision of what your project is going to accomplish, and identify roles. Let your team members see that they have a role in the project and see how critical it is for what they are doing. Also, you wanna set ground rules for that planning process, and you wanna simplify.
So, these are just three tips that we found that are very helpful to perfect the planning process. And if you need a tool that can help you with your planning process, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.com.