5 Critical Phases of Project Planning and Task Definition

Learn what makes up a project plan, the role of project management, defining the project goals, five phases of a project plan, post-project review, representation, and scheduling. Also explore task definition and assessment.

What is a project?

“An initiative aimed at achieving a defined goal”. “Is a set of activities which ends with specific accomplishment and which has (1) Non-routine tasks, (2) Distinct start/finish dates, and (3) Resource constraints (time/money/people/equipment)”.

Role of project management

  • For achievement of defined goal
  • Within a limited budget
  • Using limited resources
  • Within a defined time-frame

The Project Goal

If the project goal is not clearly defined, the project will never be a success. The system analysis team must have the same understanding of the project goal.

Project phases

  1. Define the project/initiation
  2. Plan the project
  3. Implement the project/execution
  4. Project closure
  5. Evaluation

Initiating the project

  • Establish a project initiation team
  • Establish relationship with customer
  • Establish project initiation plan
  • Establish management procedures
  • Establish project management environment and workbook

Planning the project

Describe project scope, alternatives and feasibility
Scope and feasibility
  • Understand the project
  • What problem is addressed
  • What results are to be achieved
  • Measures of success/indicators
  • Completion criteria
Divide the project into manageable tasks
  • Work breakdown structure
  • Gantt chart
Estimate resources and create a resource plan
Develop a preliminary schedule

Utilise Gantt and PERT charts

Develop a communication plan

Outline communication processes among customers, team members and management

Determine project standards and procedures

Specify how deliverables are tested and produced

Identify and assess risk
  • Identify sources of risk
  • Estimate consequences of risk
Create a preliminary budget
Create a statement of work

Describe what the project will deliver and duration

Set a Baseline Project Plan

Estimate of project’s tasks and resources

 Executing the project

Execute Baseline Project Plan
  • Acquire and assign resources
  • Train new team members
  • Keep project on schedule
Monitor project Progress

Adjust resources, budget and/or activities

Manage changes to Baseline Project Plan
  • Slipped completion dates
  • Changes in personnel
  • New activities
  • Bungled activities
Maintain project workbook
Communicate project status

Closing down the Project

Termination
Types of termination
  • Natural – Requirements have been met
  • Un-natural – Project stopped
  • Documentation
  • Personal appraisal

Conduct post-project reviews

  • Project deliverables
  • Project management process
  • Development process

Close customer contract

Representing and scheduling project plans

Gantt Chart – Useful for depicting simple projects or parts of large projects; Show start and completion dates for individual tasks.

PERT Charts – Stands for Program Evaluation and Review Technique. A graphical network model that depicts a project’s tasks and the relationships between those tasks. Shows order of activities.

“Tasks”– “Are activities which must be completed to achieve project goal”. Break the project into tasks and subtasks. Tasks have start and end points, are short relative to the project and are significant (not “going to library”, but rather, “search literature”).

Defining tasks – Define tasks of a project so that they are actually carried out. Use verb-noun form for naming tasks, e.g. “create drawings” or “build prototype”. Use action verbs such as “create”, “define” and “gather” rather than “will be made”.

Assessing tasks

“Milestones” – “Are the indicators of performance” – Are important checkpoints or interim goals for a project. Can be used to catch scheduling problems early. Name by noun-verb form, e.g. “report due”, “parts ordered”, “prototype complete”.

Project Management Tools

There are many PM tools. Selection of tools to use depends on:

  • Preferences
  • Your organisation preferences
  • Your clients preferences
  • The nature of the project

Examples of PM tools include:

  • Work breakdown structure
  • Critical Path Analysis
  • Gantt chart
  • Time cost Matrix
  • Log frame
  • PERT
  • Written reports

System life cycle

Experience a similar fate as living things.
Birth: an idea concerning a new and better way of doing something is born. “There is a better way!”
Growth: after analysis of the current project, parties join to design and develop a new and better systems

Full development: The new system is implemented and become fully operational.
Deterioration: organisational requirements keep changing; modifications must be made to the system. The system ages, it no longer perform tasks of the organisation better.
Death: Inadequacies become apparent; the instant a new and practical idea is born, the life of the old system is over.

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Amar Al Habsy

Entrepreneur, blogger and digital marketer who enjoys writing awesome and original content on a variety of topics based on experience. Connect: Twitter.

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