Whether you’re leading a team or planning your own projects, project planning is essential in order to be efficient. Project planning helps you organise your time according to the work that needs to be carried out, to ensure you remain efficient for the long-term. Project planning does however require a certain attention to detail, in advance of and during the works being carried out. Time management, minimizing delays, in this article we will explore all the advantages of project planning, and how to plan a project using our advice and techniques.
Project planning refers to the process of organizing tasks that are to be carried out within a given period. The aim of project planning is to determine the cost, the resources needed and the best way of scheduling all of the tasks to be carried out. In other words, having a clear vision of your project and completing it in a minimum of time.
Project planning also clarifies the role of each person in the division of tasks and work to be done. Project planning fosters collaboration and cohesion within the team. Putting the tasks to be done in order encourages individual team members to carry out their part of the work efficiently. Each member of the team must bear in mind that a delay in their work will cause delays for their team-mates.
Once the tasks have been correctly ordered and assigned, this framework will enable you to monitor your work and progress more closely. Understanding the bigger picture is crucial, how the tasks are connected and their timeline within the project. This allows you to anticipate any potential problems and their impact early on.
The more organized you are upstream, the more efficient you will become.
The first step of project planning is identifying what tasks need to be carried out. Doing an inventory of all the tasks to be done is necessary to ensure that you will reach your goal on time, as well as offering several other advantages. By taking each element into account, you will be able to look ahead and organize these tasks better, and better represent the project and its implementation process (best practices). For each of these tasks, you must outline:
- The planned work schedule (a minimum and a maximum)
- The cost
- The latest possible date for completion
- The skills required (when working as a team)
- Who is in charge of the project
You must also keep any external limitations in mind (communicating with the client, supplier delays, purchasing materials, etc.), so that reality doesn’t get the better of you. Don’t hesitate to be generous with your estimations, giving yourself some room to manoeuvre. It’s always better to finish ahead of schedule, rather than missing the deadline !
From this list of tasks, you will get all of the milestones you can mark on the calendar. Prioritizing tasks, in other words scheduling tasks in relation to each other, is an important step in the project planning process not to be missed.
Think about clearly identifying the tasks that will prevent other work from being carried out. This will avoid ending up at a standstill while waiting for another colleague or supplier to complete their part. Of course, if you do end up with this type of clash, use the time to accomplish other tasks and refine your timetable.
There are several types of project planning. Every workplace has their own way of doing things, and their own particular needs. It’s up to you to find out which project planning method suits your style of working best. The most important thing is to be thorough in the inventory of tasks to be carried out, to make sure you’re starting off on the right foot.
Also known as daily planning, vertical planning is a detailed, hour-by-hour plan of the tasks making up your days. This type of planning consists of detailing the order of your activities and the exact moment each one of them will take place. This project planning method gives you a clear view of your days and how they will unfold. With this methodology, you can be sure that you won’t miss anything, and that you’ll be able to carry out each task while staying on track.
Horizontal planning isn’t based on each hour individually, but on the working day as a whole. This type of project planning can also be done weekly or monthly (depending on how far in advance you’re planning). This style of project planning allows you to share your workload and highlight your priorities. In any case, this isn’t the most rigid form of planning. In fact, over the course of the weeks the unexpected can arise and new tasks can end up being added to your plan. Leave space for these occurrences, as this will help you avoid becoming overloaded further down the line.
Joint planning is a mix between horizontal planning and vertical planning. You plan your tasks in the medium/long-term day by day, and do this for several weeks. At the same time, you assign a duration to each task. You therefore benefit from a bird’s eye view, as well as a detailed plan at the same time. This might seem like wishful thinking, but this model is completely achievable if your project has been well-thought out upstream. All you need to do is carefully consider the order of the tasks and their duration.
Knowing what needs to be done and distributing the workload properly isn’t enough. You must also :
Work As a Team
As a team leader, it’s up to you to define the objectives to meet and the means available. You are potentially the only point of contact for the client, so communication all comes down to you. Despite this, you need to be aware of your environment and the importance of your collaborators. Your project team is potentially made up of experts with varied skill sets. They could have a different vision and interesting ideas for the project and its organization. Don’t hesitate to get them involved with doing the inventory of tasks they’ll be carrying out and consider their limitations too. Getting your team more involved will allow you to create an atmosphere of trust and good working conditions.
Allow a Margin
When we carry out project planning, we often have a tendency to underestimate the time it takes to complete a task. Be generous with your estimates so you can be sure to meet your deadlines. Everyone knows it’s better to have too much time rather than not enough !
Know When To Stop
If you need to allow a margin, you also need to know when to stop. When we see that a stage of the project is completely blocked and slowing down the whole team, you mustn’t hesitate to reassess the work to be carried out and the means available, to prevent the project from getting stuck.
Make Sure Information Is Easily Accessible
Transmitting information is an essential dimension of project management. Guaranteeing access to key information and work documents creates an environment that fosters teamwork and avoids wasting time sending information back and forth. A shared folder on Google Drive, a whiteboard in the office listing all the tasks by person, find what works best for your team.
Project management software offers numerous advantages. Primarily, it can provide a framework for collaborative work and automate recurring processes. For example, calculating profitability, updating project monitoring dashboards or creating to-do lists. By centralizing all this information, you’ll have saved time for tracking and analyzing your project with your team.
Kiwili is the perfect solution for your project planning. Our project management software Kiwili allows you to plan, structure and track your projects in an intuitive and agile manner:
- Outline all of the steps required with time allocated and deadlines
- Assign each task and notify team members directly by email
- Add in the costs incurred
- Attach documents and follow-up notes
- Generate project reports
Kiwili’s strength lies in connecting project management with the real work your company does. Once a client has accepted your quote, you can start working directly below, converting it into a project. All of the elements that you’ve charged for in your quote will be automatically converted into project stages, and all you’ll need to do is define the project duration if it isn’t already detailed in your quote.
Project planning is a core element of your work that shouldn’t be left on the sidelines. The time spent organizing will be highly profitable if you stick to the plan you’ve outlined right the way through the project, and remember to leave some room to manoeuvre.
When it comes to organizing your project, project management software can help in so many ways, starting with providing clear, up-to-date information (duration of work by employee, project status reports, profitability, etc.).
Try Kiwili today with our 14 day free trial ! It’s the ideal solution for entrepreneurs, as it combines the advantages of an online project management software with a powerful project management tool.