The Planning Phase is the second phase of the project life cycle. It involves creating a set of plans to help guide your team through the next phases of the project.

Once the project receives the green light, it needs a solid plan to guide the team, as well as keep them on time and on budget. A well-written Project Plan identifies the project timeline, including the phases of the project, the tasks to be performed, and possible constraints. The plan should be agreed and approved by the project team and its key stakeholders.

The Project Plan is the most important document created in the planning phase and typically includes the following detail sub-plans:

  • Resource Plan identifies the types of resources (labor, equipment, and materials) and quantities of each resource type needed for the project.
  • Similar to the Resource Plan, a Financial Plan identifies the quantity of money required for the resources. An expense schedule can help you to compare forecast spending vs. the actual spending throughout the project.
  • Quality Plan defines what quality means in terms of this project, lists clear quality targets for each deliverable, and identifies the techniques used to control the actual level of quality.
  • The foreseeable project risks are then documented within a Risk Plan and a set of actions to be taken formulated to both prevent each risk from occurring and reduce the impact of the risk should it eventuate. 
  • Communications Plan identifies the types of information to be distributed, the methods of distributing information to stakeholders, the frequency of distribution and responsibilities of each person in the project team for distributing information regularly to stakeholders.

The plans created during this phase will help you to manage time, cost, quality, change, risk, and issues. They will also help you manage staff and external suppliers, to ensure that you deliver the project on time and within budget.

Ask yourself the following questions during Planning:

  • Are there measurable objectives or success criteria?
  • Do you have a high-level description of the project, requirements and risks?
  • Can you adequately schedule and budget high-level milestones?