Why Planning is the Most Crucial Step in Project Management

Companies always tend to identifying aspects of in-house processes that can be improved and made more efficient. And since project management is one of the most important processes in any organization, it has been subject to many changes and improvements over the last decade. It has undergone so many changes by now that asking the question: “What is project management?” seems quite viable.

With so many methodologies and project management tools on the market, it has become quite difficult to tell what is what and which step is the most crucial in project management. Project planning has fallen into the shadow of project execution, monitoring and control, and closure. This is why we are offering you a list of reasons why planning is the most important part of this process.

What is Project Management

Each project is unique both in terms of sub phases and specific tasks, and the scope of operations it undertakes. They are also usually defined by a beginning and end time and by resources and scope. Sometimes, people who work on the project are not even from the same organization or the same geolocation.

So, what is project management then? It is nothing but the application of the knowledge, techniques, tools and skills to project-related activities. The purpose of the application of the above mentioned things is to meet the project requirements.

Each project has goals, a schedule and resources. These three are the things that shape project management. Project management is divided into four phases:

  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Monitoring & Controlling
  • Closing

Since it is the first step of project management, planning plays a crucial role in its execution. Let’s see why.

Stay Clear About Project Goals and Requirements

Each project, regardless of its scope, has goals and highly specific requirements. Some of them have to be completed under specific circumstances, before a specific deadline or with limited resources. Without goals and requirements, you basically don’t have a project. These two factors are the ones that will set the project planning into a highly specific direction.

At this point, it is very important to understand that all this reasons or sub-phases of planning are all closely tied together. Sitting at a drawing table with clear project goals and requirements on your mind is a job half done. Let’s move on.  

Remove the Risk of Overseeing Something Important

This is not only a forgotten reason why planning is important in project management, but it also a forgotten step in project planning. Project managers are quite often under a lot of pressure, and are forced to go to project execution immediately after they have worked out the plan.

Reviewing the project plan is important, and a standard part of project planning done by an experienced professional. Moving the project to the next phase without reviewing the project plan is the main source of critical errors during the execution phase.

This step of the project plan is also important when you are not working on an in-house project but on a client’s project. In this case, it is of utmost importance to present your plan to the client so that you can make certain alignments if needed. After you get the green light from a client, you are ready to go.

Identify Required Resources; Measure Twice Cut Once

Managing assets and resources throughout the project is a daunting task. In order to make it easier, you should assess this stage and program it during the planning phase. If you skip this part of the planning phase, you risk running short on resources and ending up with a task that nobody on your team knows how to complete. Missing the deadline or going over the project budget are common consequences of this mistake.

This is why project has to be broken down into tasks. For each task manager should write down:

  • The estimated time for task completion
  • Who is going to be in charge of the task
  • Which resources are needed for the task
  • Financial estimate for task costs

Armed with a plan that goes in-depth, any manager can see project execution and closure through. This is why the plan has proven to be a crucial step in project management yet again.

Introduce Flexibility

Every project manager knows that the project plan is not something that is carved in stone and that there is a chance that things will go south for some actions. The project plan usually has this clause that clearly states what should be done if something goes wrong. E.g. if task dependency is not completed by the due date, devote all available resources to that task so that the project can move on.

With a clear strategy for implementing changes into the original plan, you will add flexibility to the project management and you will be able to complete all of your projects despite the unforeseen circumstances and problems.

How can Project Management Tools be of Help?

Project Management tools are designed to streamline the project management process and to automate it to a certain extent. With project management software, managers can plan the projects more easily, since they have direct insight into the available assets and resources.

When you add to this PM software’s features that allow real-time insight on project progress, built-in notification and messaging system, automatic invoicing, and report and analytics, it becomes clear that a project management tool  is a valuable ally of both the experienced and inexperienced project manager.

As you can see, project planning is the vital part of project management. A good plan can set the course of the project to success, while poor planning can doom it to failure, no matter how well the following steps are executed. If this topic has sparked your attention, you can expand your knowledge on project planning by reading high authority resources found online.

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