Methods Of Project Planning
In order for a project to be successful, planning is essential, hence planning becomes the most important responsibility of a project manager undertaking any project.
For a PM to be able to go through the process of planning the PM would need a vision to work upon to begin with. I personally, would analyse the vision first beginning with the SWOT analysis, hence finding out about the:
of this vision to see whether it is feasible or not. Once this is established I can then go ahead and initiate the process of planning.
What is planning?
Planning is the first methodologic step and the logical combination of activities required for the vision of a project or undertaking to be accomplished.
The reasonings behind the requirement of this step are:
- To provide the best direction selecting the perfect sequence to generate the project
- It reduces uncertainties and the impact of change by applying consistency
- It minimises waste and redundancies during the project execution as accurate communication, cooperation and contribution between the stakeholders is present. The best theory which helps achieve performance increase is that of Lock and Goal-Setting as it helps to produce a higher level of output by setting specific harder goals than expected. Employees, then, tend to work harder to achieve the set goals efficiently.
- It provides the project with a controlling function facilitated by the establishment of objectives and standards (Huntley, Robbins and DeCenzo, 2004)
Successful planning has to follow a method/tool which “includes a thorough investigation of the organisation’s capabilities, opportunities and a mechanistic analysis which, however could reduce the vision to a programmed routine”. Once the execution of the plan turns into a routine this plan could lead to disaster as it doesn’t take into consideration changes that could impact the execution of it.
What is the best method to apply in planning then?
- Arrow Networks (A-o-A)
I wouldn’t go for an A-o-A planning method as it has the disadvantage of not representing the project’s real state accurately because you can only view the relationship between the finish of the previous activity (Predecessor) and the start of the one after (Successor). However, I would use it as a summary for my project to tick along as I go through the necessary activities and add or subtract any event, should any unexpected change take place. Therefore, this method is best when used for personal use as another challenge you may meet is that of adding too many notes and end up confusing the readers and, as a matter of fact, it is also difficult to compose. For it not to be over crowded an individual A-o-A for different departments, actions and events would be required. Due to its nature, this method is good for small projects.
- Precedence Networks
Precedence or also known as Activity-on-Node notation is an effective Project Management tool used by many industries due to its potential and it is one of the systems most used in modern planning software. This is a much easier planning tool to understand in comparison to other systems due to its strategic manner to develop a schedule network diagram for a project.
It is a much more detailed system where you get to see every single relationship between the various activities taking place in the project and furthermore, the replicas of the exact timing of when an activity is due to take place as well as its relationship with other activities.
- Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
“A WBS, defined, is “a deliverable-oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables. It organizes and defines the total scope of the project. Each descending level represents an increasingly detailed definition of the project work. The WBS is decomposed into work packages. The deliverable orientation of the hierarchy includes both internal and external deliverables.” (PMBOK® Guide—Third Edition)
- Gantt Chart
A great tool that goes along side with WBS is the Gantt chart in use since 1910. This is a bar chart consisting of vertical lines used to represent the time frame with actual dates to visualize the schedule of the project. You also have the various tasks represented by different colours horizontally in order. It is a simple and straight forward tool that helps better understand all stages of the project quicker.
Considering that I have visual memory this tool is perfect for me to work for my Project Planning.
I have to mention that appropriate planning for a project will depend on the type of the project itself, hence it is important for the PM to carry out proper research and study the project accurately to ensure to choose the most efficient plan to execute it.
Now depending on what project I will be working on I will decide which type of planning method I would be going for. They are all good methods, however the type of method should be applied accurately according to the type of project at hand. Some small companies’ planning are mostly informal as the manager of the company in question has a personal vision/goal to achieve and would work out a strategy on how to get there. This planning lacks continuity as it is general whereas the formal planning, generally used in large companies, props success although it may also head to failure, so it is up to me to define the project in all its different dimensions and chose what type is best for its accomplishment. Going through the SWOT breakdown of the vision and the establishment of its “blueprint”, followed by a SMART (Strategically Managed Aligned Regenerative Transitional World) analysis of the objectives would enable me to strike the right balance between all the plans and issues (technical or social issues in the business) and either utilise one or a combination that would lead to my own creative plan. I will have to decided whether to go for a strategic plan or a tactical (operational) one considering the breadth of the project, considering also the time frame (short/long term) and its frequency as the type of commitment will vary depending on these variants.
I will have to be flexible, not rigid as organisations do face changes in their environment which are dynamic and be a quick problem solver without panicking