Create a project plan in just 7 steps
Experience has shown that there are two types of people in the project:
Some think nothing of all the planning work and consider it completely unnecessary.
The others cannot work at all without planning because they are overwhelmed with information.
Okay … there is probably also a mean thing. However, there is no doubt that as a project manager you cannot avoid planning and plans. Either to be able to organize yourself at all – or because there are simply obligations and expectations from outside.
If the supervisor comes and you should create a project plan, then it has to be delivered. And then it’s good to know how to do it best.
A wonderful step-by-step approach results from the 7W questions of project management: Where? Why? What? Who? How? By when? How much?
By answering these questions, the project was illuminated all around. Take a closer look at the subject areas:
Where do we stand in the project?
Before you really start, you should consider the initial situation. Because even if the project contains a lot of new information and tasks for you, there is already a lot of it – and it is often forgotten. Helpful questions
What information is already available?
Which points are clear and unclear?
Who is already involved?
What has already happened
Which strengths and weaknesses should be considered?
Why do we want to carry out the project?
An incredibly important – but often neglected – point: With some projects, the question actually arises as to why it was actually started. This is certainly now rarely the case when it comes to building houses when the benefits are obvious. But this question sometimes arises in companies.
The consideration of the project benefit is particularly important because it can be used to advertise the project again and again. If the benefits are clear, the arguments can be conjured up again in difficult project situations. Helpful questions
What are the benefits of the project?
What positive effects do we hope for?
When will the investments have paid off?
What opportunities can arise from the project?
What do we want to achieve in the project?
We come to perhaps the most important point of the entire list: the WHAT! A lot has been written about the importance of project goals – and rightly so. Without a clear idea of exactly what should be achieved, project management becomes a game of chance. After all, nobody knows exactly where to head for.
The likelihood of misunderstandings and conflicts between the client and the recipient increases significantly if there is no agreement on the WHAT in the project. In the end, who wants to decide whether the project result was achieved when everyone implicitly has a different idea of the result? Helpful questions
Which main target values exist in the project, e.g. after the magic triangle?
What are the goals of the project?
What goals are not being pursued in the project?
What results should be available after the end of the project?
Who is involved in the project?
Breathe! After the WHY and the WHAT, the next steps are almost child’s play. In this step, all people or groups of people are connected who are connected to the project. These can be people who work directly, but also external people (e.g. residents, other departments …) or interested people.
The objective in this step: create a solid organizational structure in the team, find supporters and involve opponents through appropriate measures so that the success of the project is not endangered. Helpful questions
Who is involved in the project?
Which other interested or interested parties have to be considered?
Which supporters does the project have?
How is the project team organized?
According to which rules does the team work together?
How do we structure the project?
The framework has been set – now it is content! In this step, the project is brought into a structure that is easy to work with. Instead of a large and confusing task, subtasks are worked out step by step and clearly presented graphically. This reduces the perceived complexity and forms the basis for further planning: the effort and costs for a single package are easier to estimate than for an unmanageable overall project.
Risks are now also considered! Why with HOW? Because measures are almost always defined for dealing with risks. And they also cause effort and costs – and must also appear in this project structure. Helpful questions
What tasks have to be done in the project?
How can these be structured hierarchically in sub-projects?
What risks can jeopardize the success of the project?
What measures can be taken to counter the risks?
By when should the project goal and sub-goals be achieved?
The customer usually asks this question very early! Or else, it is not provided at all, but simply stipulates a project end date. The topic of time naturally plays a major role in the project. The first step in this step is to divide the project into rough time periods. Milestones also play an important role as important test points.
If that’s not enough, you can move on to detailed planning: Here, work packages are arranged logically and provided with time periods. Helpful questions
What are the rough project phases?
Which milestones should be reached?
How are the work packages arranged?
How long do the work packages last?
How much does the project cost?
If the “time” factor already plays an important role, the “money” factor is often much more important. And since nobody has money to give away, this is absolutely understandable. After this sequence of steps, the project costs are determined as the last step on the basis of scheduling through the planning of resources and their expenses. In practice, however, it is often the case that the project costs or the project budget are easily specified. This budget has to be dealt with – so cost planning makes sense in any case. Helpful questions
What resources are needed for the project?
How much do the resources cost?
How much effort do individual work packages or individual resources cause?
What total costs result from the considerations?
Done! These 7 questions form a very good common thread through project planning and help you not to forget anything. Especially at the beginning of a project, when rough planning is the first step, it is advisable to go through these questions.
And if you would like to fill this sequence with life (or concrete methods and tools), you should be excited about the next week!
Do you need a cheat sheet? You can use the following document as a guide!