Six Project Planning Steps to Boost Your Results

Define scope inclusions and exclusions so that the team is clear about what they are doing.

Identify and understand your stakeholders so that you can ensure effective communications with everyone.

Break the project into discreet activities so that you can define ‘done’ for each activity.

  • When costs are important, break the project down far enough so that you can estimate a budget for each activity.
  • Break your project into activities that will provide real value to the client or management team.
  • Have the person doing the work define, in writing, their understanding of what ‘done’ means. Confirm this understanding with the client.

Fully define each activity so you can create a reliable budget.

  • What does ‘done’ look like? Hopefully this question has been answered, but I encourage you to get very specific.
  • Who is responsible for each activity? While you have hopefully figured that part out before you finished defining what ‘done’ looks like, you may want to identify a backup leader for the activity.
  • What quality is desired for this activity? Are you producing a draft or a polished document? Is your working software ready for client testing, or were you supposed to test it?
  • Who is going to be responsible for testing the quality? Who will approve the quality? I recognize that these questions may seem strange if you are talking about a Word document executive summary.
  • What deadlines are critical? Where are the dependencies? I recommend that project teams get very clear on the important deadlines. You can then choose whether to use the other deadlines as a schedule management tool, or whether to use a more agile scheduling approach. It depends on how important it is to have some type of a schedule. It may also depend on whether you are working with people who need the discipline of deadlines.
  • Are there risks, or issues, that will directly impact a particular activity? It’s important to note these before you create your budget. An activity that has significant risks, or issues, will cost more than the same work, where there are not associated risks or issues.

Document the person who is responsible for each piece so that you can ensure accountability.

Create a reliable budget so that you can identify scope creep.



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Suzanne S. Davenport

Suzanne S. Davenport

Writes on project management, leadership, team building, and value delivery. Imagining work management in the future.