Project phases – Planning sets the foundation for a successful initiative

“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.”– Winston Churchill

The planning phase – What are the key subcomponents or activities?

The planning phase in project management is where you typically spend the most time creating the many project artifacts that come with the territory. Depending on your companies appetite and desire to have robust documentation will without question drive your planning timeline. So today I wanted to spend some time describing and reviewing what is typically found in this project phase and allow some time for reflection for some and education for others. What you find listed below are the key components found in the planning phase with a simple description and listing of the typical deliverables. One final note, these are not listed in any particular order of importance.

 1. Conduct interviews with stakeholders

Identifying who are the key stakeholders that could influence or impact the project. Think ‘who’ could de-rail my plan if not included upfront in the conversation. From there you typically would list all your stakeholder groups, determine their level of influence, figure out an engagement path and go from there. Communication is key here, and as expected it is better to be early than late in this category.

Key deliverable: Stakeholder analysis and engagement plan

2. Create business process flows (Current and future state)

Have a business analyst on your project team? This is where you want to use their expertise to create documentation as part of your project. In most companies, you can find the people that have been around for a while that can give you the details around current processes, how things are done, who does them, what the associated hand-offs are. A software program with flow chart shapes is very handy when you start to document. On the other hand, when you go to capture ‘future’ state processes these can be a little harder, find people that are creative in nature, conduct your sessions in smaller groups to speed up the process. You can always come back to the larger team to share the work and get feedback.

Key deliverable: Process flow charts

3. Create project requirements

Think here about getting people to describe what needs to get accomplished, and what the goals are. What is the scope? What does the business need? What business problem the client is attempting to solve? What does the customer want? Getting this done right on the first try will eliminate frustrations that might come up later.  Finding the right people to involve in these meetings is sometimes the hardest. A diverse group is needed to not only describe what you what to do but also the people that can ask the right questions about what.

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