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Planning Process Group

Planning Process GroupPlanning Process Group

How much better would your last project be if you could magically do it over again? This is the power of planning, because it entails walking through the project and getting it organized before it is actually done.  It is during project planning, in addition to when the work is being done, that resources, time and money can be saved.

Project planning determines if the project charter can or cannot be done, as well as how project will be accomplished; addressing all appropriate project management processes knowledge areas. This means that the project manager and the project team will determine what processes in the PMBOK® Guide are appropriate for the needs of the project, to avoid wasting project resources on activities that are not relevant to the particular project.
Answer If you are thinking only in terms of the PMBOK® Guide, you come up with the following:
• Develop project management plan (Integration lesson)
• Scope planning (Scope lesson)
• Scope definition (Scope lesson)
• Create WBS (Scope lesson)
• Activity definition (Time lesson)

This will not be enough to help you pass the exam. (Heard this before?) You need a more detailed understanding of what really needs to be done in the planning process group (actions), and to find out if there are any of these you do not know, or have never done.

As you check your answers with the following list, note which items you do in the real world.  Make sure you understand the following as being done during the planning process group.

Note: Do not fall into the trap of losing focus when you are working through these long lists. The lists purposely jump around and are intended to contain a lot of information to save you the time of reading hundreds of pages of boring text. Each list should take you about 15 minutes to think through.

The result of the planning processes is a project management plan. Project planning is iterative. Each process above may use the results of the previous process, and each process may affect or cause changes to the previous processes.

The idea, in the real world, is to follow these processes in the planning process group, attempting to complete each one as fully as possible. Then, after risk identification, qualitative and quantitative risk analysis and risk response planning, go back to finalize all the components of the project management plan.

This process of planning saves time and is efficient. Can you guess why iterations start after risk management? Because it is only after risk management is completed that the final cost and schedule can be determined. Risk management could also result in changes to the resources, when they are used, in what sequence activities are performed, and almost all other parts of the planning process group.

Did the last two sentences make sense? If so, you are in excellent shape. If not, you will need to read the Risk lesson of this course carefully to find out what I mean and why those sentences should make sense.

Notice also the use of management plans in the previous list. So many times project managers jump right into whatever they are doing without thinking about it beforehand. Such actions lead to inefficiencies, rework, mistakes, conflict, needless overtime, and just plain bad project management. Better project managers think about things before they do them. Take a more formal approach to considering “How will I do this?” before doing the work. The answer to this question is a management plan.

There are many components to management plans but generally they consist of a “How will I go about planning scope, schedule, etc.?” and “How will I manage and control scope, schedule, etc., now that I have planned what needs to be done?”

Both answers are determined in the planning process group. For clarity, the previous exercise groups management plans together instead of listing each management plan. It also lists the iterations of the management plans by separating them into the planning, management and control pieces. See more about management plans in the Integration lesson.

Another important aspect of planning is that the amount of time spent in the planning process group should be related to the needs of the project. A project where the schedule needs to have a high level of confidence will require more planning. A project with a low priority will require less planning.

Imagine that you have chosen to organize the project by phases (test phase, install phase, etc.) It might not be possible to plan each phase to a detailed degree until the phase before is almost completed. This is called “rolling wave planning.” Even though each part of the “project” is called a phase, each phase could be, and maybe should be, planned as a project with its own charter, scope statement, WBS, etc.

It also needs to be decided what level of detail the project should be planned to. Many projects have enough information to plan to the activity level right away, others can only be planned to a work package level or even some higher level until more is known about the project. Projects that require more control to meet the project objectives of time or cost may need to be planned to a more detailed level. Those that do not need so much control can be planned to a lesser degree of detail.

Who is involved in the planning processes? Everyone! The project management plan is compiled by the project manager with input from stakeholders. Historical records from previous projects, company policies, magazine articles about projects and other such information may also be utilized in planning the project.
When are we in the planning process group? Project planning does not just occur when the project is beginning.

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