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A Breakdown Of Project Planning

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“Plans are useless, but planning is everything” are the words of the 34th President of the United States of American. Dwight D. Eisenhower said this word in a speech he mad to the National Defense Executive Reserve Conference on Washington, D.C. in 1957. As a decorated soldier, Ike knew that a plan or a goal mean very little until the process of accomplishing the plan is put into effect. As a team, our goal is to complete a project, initiating project planning is necessary in order to achieve the goal. Wikipedia defines project planning as a “part of project management, which relates to the use of schedules such as Gantt charts to plan and subsequently report progress within the project environment” (Project Planning, n.d.). This definition does not give justice to the actions involved in project planning. Jiang, Bin and Heiser (2004) breakdown project planning into four parts; project selection, planning phase, execution phase, and termination phase. The first and last phases are self explanatoryand will not need to cover them in detail. The chief objective is to illustrate the importance of the planning and execution phase in the process of a team oriented project.

Planning Phase

This phase is best completed as a team. According to Ambler (2000),when involved in the planning phase members are more likely to believe in the plan. This will lead to a better quality of work and smoother progress throughout the project.

Identify the Tasks

According to Bernal and Polleck (2005) the first step is to identify the tasks or the steps towards completing the project. This breakdown should be done through joint efforts of the project manager and the rest of the team. Having a variety of people involved in this step allow for a more detailed list of responsibilities; this avoids setback later in the development of the project. This list will vary for every project. A highly suggested method used for this stage is brainstorming. Once a list has been completed it can be outlined by levels of the duties and their sub-duties involved.

Define Roles

The next step recommended by Bernal and Pollock (2005) is defining roles or assigning task. After an outline of duties is established, each step must be assigned to the team member most qualified in completing them. One thing to remember in this step is to minding a timeline of when each step is being completed; this avoids overloading members with too many tasks to complete at once.

Be Realistic

In order for the project to work smoothly the plan has to be realistic. This means set deadlines that are easily attainable and leave room for error. No matter how careful a plan is laid out, problems may arise delaying progress. As Ambler (2000) states, “A project team must believe in their project's goals, estimate, and schedule. For this to happen, you must plan truthfully and avoid planning beyond the limits of your understanding.” Also remember planning is and ongoing task and if an issue arises the plan can be adjust as see fit of the entire team.

Execution of the Plan

How a plan is executed will lead to the success or failure of a plan. If any concern goes unhandled, it could through the efforts of the entire team off balance. Keep in mind these four recommendations to while executing a project plan.

Communicate openly

Open communication is detrimental to a team project. Everyone of the team should be open to communicating his or her ideas and intentions freely. In 2006, People Management conducted a survey and interviewed several team leaders and isolated the “high-performing” teams (Jones, 2006). In this course of action they were able to identify the leading factors of their success. The first factor recognized was their teams “focus on communication.” According to Jones, these teams had a wider range of communication sources and leader devoted nearly 50 to 70 of their time to maintaining interactions.

Track Progress

Several sources recommended tracking progress through various means. Simple habits such as journaling or writing in a diary can be useful. These only provide progress for individuals however. In order to track communications and progress several sources recommend using software. Willy Herroelen (2005) offers Microsoft Project and Primavera Project Planner as two options to use. These programs can help produce timelines, charts, and schedules from the beginning to the end of the project. If maintained properly, these programs can become an asset to the execution phase. The information these programs can produce will be able to separate the premium and unfortunate decisions made throughout the development for future reference.

Follow Timelines

The team can insure near to flawless operations by following properly set timelines as closely

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