Consultancy Skills Toolkit

Delivering Projects

 

Project Planning

“No plan survives the first contact with the enemy” - Sun Tzu in The Art of War

Planning is one of the main secrets to successful project implementation. In the first place, during the planning stage, a good plan creates a model of the project which enables the Project Manager to analyse how the work needs to be carried out and identify the options for doing so. In the second place, during the implementation stage it provides a "baseline" for control purposes. This baseline can help the Project Manager to judge whether the project is on course or not and thus control it.

To do this in practice, you need to focus on the project and

  1. draw up a complete list of the activities and tasks to be carried out showing the people or sections who would need to do them. For change projects, use the note on Implementation Planning in Additional Materials to tune the plan to try to minimise disruption.
     
  2. chart these activities using either a Gantt chart, a milestone plan, or a Critical Path analysis network.
     
  3. with this chart, talk to the people who would need to be involved about their contribution and to get their ideas, their estimates of time involved, and their availability.
     
  4. continue this until you have a fairly complete map of the project.

During this process you will start to identify possible difficulties and blockages and you should become clear as to which activities are the critical ones – those, which could delay the whole project.

Planning Sheets, Milestone Plans and Gantt Charts

You will almost certainly need to use one of the following planning techniques to plan your project. 

Each technique has its strengths and weaknesses and you need to select the technique most suited to your particular project. Each is illustrated below. 

Planning Sheet

Critical Path Analysis Spaghetti Carbonara

Stages Plan

Gannt Chart   

Milestone Plan