Planning, the second phase of a project according to PMI. What does planning actually look like. Is it just writing a list of things to do? Is it assigning resources to accomplish tasks in the project. Yes. Planning is thinking through the entire project. Once the project get the green light from Initiation, it is time to start planning.
Well in advance of the work being needed to complete the project, allocate the people, teams, resources, or partners. Call them, email them, get on their calendar, to ensure they are available when they need to be to perform their part of the project. The planning is the most important work that a PM does to contribute to the overall project.
Planning should be done as early as possible in the project. There are several tools that facilitate planning, but the most used is Excel. Other include Microsoft Project, Web apps of all flavors, and Enterprise tools like SAP or Dynamics. Each tool functions the same way. Collect the tasks, assign resources, assign the date the task needs to be completed. As time moves forward, check off the tasks that are done. Reports of all shapes and sizes can be produced to show the status of the project. BTW do not forget to baseline, to show the variance of where you thought the project would be at a specific time.
Requirement gathering and documentation is an important outcome of the planning activities. Requirements need to be gathered from the customer and agreed upon before moving to execution. Functional requirements are gathered first, what will the project accomplish. Design requirements are second, how will the functional requirements get built. The Technical design documents will elaborate on the design so that developers can build exactly what is needed.
A project plan is the Project Managers tool to help the members of the project team stay on track. This plan is usually a document that is passed out that outlines the high level timeline, requirements, roles, and communication plan for the project.
Planning can be a long process. Careful planning will allow the project to progress faster in execution.