Key Project Planning Principles

While most reasonable people will, at least, acknowledge there is value to "planning" at a logical level, many of those same people are less than "emotionally committed" to the practice. Why is this? Generally, it is because the "project planning" they have witnessed has violated one or more of the following key project planning principles.

  • Purpose The purpose of project planning is to develop a plan that enables the project to be executed and controlled, as shown in Figure 5.1.

    Figure 5.1. Highlights the interactions between the planning, executing, and controlling project management processes.

  • Multiple passes required Project planning is not a one-time activity performed at the beginning of a project. For starters, it generally takes several iterations to get to a comprehensive plan given the multitude of inputs that must be integrated and the number of stakeholders that need to agree on the plan. In addition, as things happen and we learn more, plans will need to be adjusted and details ironed out as the project moves along.


    A Microsoft Project file (or anything else resembling a project schedule, timeline, or WBS) is not a project plan.

    A project plan will generally reference other documents and supplemental plans, including a WBS and project schedule.



    A project plan is all-encompassing document that is used as the basis for controlling and executing a project.

  • A project plan is NOT a Microsoft Project file Before we go any further, let's make sure we are clear on a few key terms. A project plan is not a project schedule or a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). A project plan is all-encompassing document that is used as the basis for controlling and executing a project.
  • Give me one The planning exercise and the planning team must have control over one of the traditional project success factors (scope, time, cost, or performance). Senior management can set all but one of these factorsjust not all of them.
  • "Proactive" project management Effective planning enables a "proactive" project management approach. Before the execution of the project gets underway, we ask the questions and determine the approaches we will take to manage the project and stakeholder expectations regarding project communications, stakeholder responsibilities, quality management, risks, responses to specific performance variances, procurement management, and project team management.
  • "Stay down from the mountain" Project planning is not the time for the top-down, Mount Olympus approach to management. Project planning is the time for questions, facilitation, interaction, and feedback.

    Specifically, you need to conduct a stakeholder analysis on all of your management and customer stakeholders to validate the project definition elements, understand their expectations and communication needs, and to review procedures for dealing with critical issues, risks, change requests, and performance variances.

    In addition, the team members who will be doing the work should be heavily involved in defining and estimating the details of the work to be performed. We address this further in Chapters 6 and 7. This approach leads to a better definition of the work required and a higher commitment level toward scheduled work assignments.


Change control, communications, risk, and quality project management are excellent examples of proactive project management.

The team approach to project planning greatly increases their acceptance and commitment level to the project plan.

Part i. Project Management Jumpstart

Project Management Overview

The Project Manager

Essential Elements for any Successful Project

Part ii. Project Planning

Defining a Project

Planning a Project

Developing the Work Breakdown Structure

Estimating the Work

Developing the Project Schedule

Determining the Project Budget

Part iii. Project Control

Controlling a Project

Managing Project Changes

Managing Project Deliverables

Managing Project Issues

Managing Project Risks

Managing Project Quality

Part iv. Project Execution

Leading a Project

Managing Project Communications

Managing Expectations

Keys to Better Project Team Performance

Managing Differences

Managing Vendors

Ending a Project

Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
ISBN: 078973821X
Year: 2006
Pages: 169 © 2008-2020.
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