After project initiation, begins the process of planning, with the end goal of achieving a successful, timely, and efficient completion of the project. Responsibilities, schedules, directions, and details for the team need to be laid out, and clear. The process of planning the project however needs a considerable care and attention. It is crucial that the project’s objectives be clearly tied to the overall mission, goals, and strategy of the organization, such as might be reflected in the project portfolio process.
Senior management should take the responsibility to delineate the firm’s intent in undertaking the project, outline the scope of the project and how the project’s goals are aligned with the organization’s goals and how the project has a positive influence on the organization. It is very important that the top management has confidence in the project and should be in constant check throughout the project. The senior manager should also be present at the project launch meeting, an initial coordination meeting, as a visible symbol of top management’s commitment to the project.
The individual leading the launch meeting is first to define the scope of the project. The success of the project launch meeting absolutely depends on the existence of a well-defined set of objectives. Unless all parties to the planning process have a clear understanding of precisely what it is the project is expected to deliver, planning is sure to be inadequate or misguided. The precise nature of the scope statement depends on the nature of the project itself, and because of this, it reflects the fact that all projects are, to some extent, unique.
At the launch of the eeting, the project is discussed in sufficient detail that potential contributors develop a general understanding of what is needed. If the project is one of many similar projects, the meeting will be short and routine, a sort of “touching base” with other interested units. If the project is unique in most of its aspects, extensive discussion may be required. It is useful to review the major risks facing the project during the launch meeting. The known risks will be those identified during the project selection process.
These are apt to focus largely on the market reaction to a ew process/product, the technical feasibility of an innovation, and like matters. The risk management plan for the project must be started at the launch meeting so that further risk identification can be extended to include the technology of the process/ product, the project’s schedule, resource base, and a myriad of other risks facing the project but not really identifiable until the project plan has begun to take form.
In addition to the matters discussed below, one of the outcomes of the project planning process will be the formulation of the project’s risk management group and the initial isk management plan that the group develops during the process of planning the project. To fl x plans in more detail at this initial meeting tends to prevent team members from integrating the new project into their ongoing activities and from developing creative ways of coordinating activities that involve two or more organizational units.
Worse still, departmental representatives will be asked to make “a ballpark estimate of the budget and time required” to carry out this first-blush plan. Everyone who has ever worked on a project is aware of the extraordinary propensity of preliminary stimates to metamorphose instantaneously into firm budgets and schedules. Remember that this is only one of a series of meetings that will be required to plan projects of more than minimal complexity.
It is critical to the future success of the project to take the time required to do a technically and politically careful Job of planning. “If this means many meetings and extensive use of participatory decision making, then it is well worth the effort”. Whatever, the process the outcome must be that: Technical scope is established(though perhaps not “cast in concrete”) ??? Basic areas f performance responsibility are accepted by the participants ??? Any tentative delivery dates or budgets set by the parent organization are clearly noted ??? A risk management group is created.
Each individual/unit accepting responsibility for a portion of the project should agree to deliver, by the next project meeting, a preliminary but detailed plan about how that responsibility will be accomplished. Such plans should contain descriptions of the required tasks, and estimates of the budgets (labor and resources) and schedules.