The first step of the project planning framework entails finalizing the definition of an agreement on the project's measurable organizational value or MOV. The project's MOV must be defined and agreed upon before proceeding to the other steps of the project planning framework. The project's MOV provides a direct link to the organization's strategic mission. A project's MOV acts as a bridge between the strategic mission and objectives of the organization and the project plans of individual projects it undertakes. The MOV guides many of the decisions related to scope, schedule, budget, and resources throughout the project's life cycle.
2. Definition of the Project Scope:
Once the project's MOV has been defined and agreed upon by the project's stakeholders, the next step of the project planning framework is to define the project's scope. The PMBOK defines scope as the product or services to be provided by the project and includes all of the project deliverables. Project scope management is one of the nine project management knowledge areas and entails the following processes:
Planning - The project team must develop a written statement that defines the work to be included, as well as the work not to be included in the project plan. The scope statement will be used to guide future project-related decisions and to set stakeholder expectations.
Definition - The project's scope must be organized into smaller and more manageable packages of work. These work packages will require resources and time to complete. This may include more detail than the preliminary scope statement in the project charter.
Verification - Once the project's scope has been defined, the project team and stakeholders must verify it to ensure that the work completed will in fact support the project in achieving its MOV.
Change Control -Controls must be in place to manage proposed changes to the project's scope. Scope changes can either move the project closer to its MOV or result in increased work that drains the project's budget and causes the project to exceed it scheduled deadline. Proper scope control procedures can ensure that the project stays on track.
3. Subdivide the Project into Phases:
Once the project's scope has been defined and verified, the work of the project can be organized into phases in order to deliver the project's product. Breaking a project down into phases and sub phases reduces complexity and risk. Each phase should focus on providing at least one specific deliverable—that is, a tangible and verifiable piece of work. In addition, a milestone is a significant event or achievement that provides evidence that that deliverable has been completed and that the phase or sub-phase is complete
4. Tasks - Sequence, Resources, and Time Estimates:
Once the project is divided into phases, tasks are then identified. A task may be thought of as a specific activity or unit of work to be completed.
Sequence: Some tasks may be linear - i.e., have to be completed in a particular sequence - while others can be completed in parallel. Performing parallel tasks often provides an opportunity to shorten the overall length of the project. A project is constrained by the longest tasks, and any opportunity to perform tasks in parallel can shorten the project schedule.
Resources: Resources on an IT project may include such things as technology, facilities and people. Tasks require resources, and there is a cost associated with using a resource. The use of a resource may be accounted for by using a per-use charge or on a prorated basis—that is, a charge for the time you use that resource.
Time: It will take a resource a specific amount of time to complete a task. The longer it takes a resource to complete a specific task, however, the longer the project will take to finish and the more it will cost. For example, if we plan on assigning our developer who earns \$50,000 a year to a task that takes two days, then we would estimate the cost of completing that task to be approximately \$400. If the developer completes the task in one half the times, then the cost of doing that task will be about \$200. If we thought the task would take two days to complete (at a cost of \$400) and it took the developer three days to complete, the project would be one day behind schedule and \$200 over budget.
Understanding this relationship among tasks, resources, and time will be important when developing the project plan and even more important later if it is necessary to adjust the project plan in order to meet schedule or budget constraints.
5. Schedule and Budget - The Baseline Plan
The detailed project plan is an output of the project planning framework. Once the tasks are identified and their sequence, resources required, and time-to-complete estimated, it is a relatively simple step to determine the project's schedule and budget. Once the project plan is complete, it should be reviewed by the project manager, the project sponsor, and the project team to make sure it is complete, accurate, and, most importantly, able to achieve the project's MOV. Once the project plan is approved, it becomes the baseline plan that will serve as a benchmark to measure and gauge the project's progress. The project manager will use this baseline plan to compare the actual schedule to the estimated schedule and the actual costs to budgeted costs.