Project Management: Planning Phase (Brief Description)

So, we’ve come to the most important phase for Project Manager – Planning Phase. Why is it so important? The main reason is that on this phase we lay the baseline for the whole project. And with poor foundation any “building” would crash. This building – is our project, and its success depends on how we pass through Planning Phase.

The purpose of Planning Phase is to sign off key project document – Project Management Plan. I will for sure describe it in details in my future posts.

Below I will list documents/activities that must be done during this phase, and all of them are on final stage combined into Project Management plan. So, let’s start:

  • Application Design (Functional and Technical if required) – detailed description of new application and identified solution for customer and for IT. The document must be published and approved before any development has started.
  • Project Schedule – major milestones, tasks with time frames, resources accountable for tasks, critical path, deliverables and due dates. I prefer to have main plan in MS Project for everyday work and high-level plan in Excel for monthly updates to customers.
  • Costs – people time, hardware and software required for the project.
  • Risk Assessments – I’ve described this part in one of my previous posts Project Risk Management In TFS.
  • Communication plan.
  • Project Management plan.

After all activities are performed we’re moving to Execution & Control phase, but can return to the Planning phase again. This happens when project face ensure impact of any change in scope, schedule, architecture, capacity, value being delivered, etc. But in spite of this change project can still produce desired business result and value. In this case it is required to obtain agreement that a proposed change is needed and will still deliver required business value. The special Change Document is prepared in this case, to fix changes in the project.

Also, it is important to say, that from Planning Phase project manager usually starts regular Project Progress Reporting. Progress reporting should be at least monthly, but during active periods of the project (when we deal with business, start testing, prepare for go-life) I do it weekly. During one of my projects I sent reports even on daily basis – this was during final test iteration and it was important for business to monitor the amount of open issues and dynamics of issues closing.

From the next post I will step-by-step describe in details all documents mentioned above with examples from my project management experience.

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