"Planning projects in Excel? Who does that?" In fact, many more project managers than you might think ... It is not that difficult to plan projects properly if you have the right tools and a sensible strategy! We show you how to plan projects in such a way that you don't have to constantly adapt them to a changing reality - and how this makes project management much easier!
Whoever plans, gets through life easier! No matter whether you are planning a successful trip into the blue and don't want to leave anything to chance or whether you want to realize successful projects in your role as project manager: It's always about the right planning, perfectly coordinated tasks and the right timing. If you want to plan your projects efficiently - and be rewarded with an ideal project process - we have a few tips for you! But first of all, as a little warm-up, we'll deal with the terminology:
What is project planning?
"Well, that's easy!" you'll think, "That's just the planning that precedes a project..." That's right, but there is more to it than that! Planning projects (instead of just approaching them casually) means that you structure the complex challenges of projects, bring them into a regulated process and master them in this way. Furthermore, project planning is an integral part of a regulated project process and stands between the definition and implementation of the project. Planning projects correctly means that you have a benchmark and a guideline available at any time and in every phase of your project, so that you can check whether everything is still running as you would like it to. An essential part of project planning is staff planning or the allocation of resources, i.e. resource management. Depicted realistically, it contributes directly to the success of the project.
How to plan projects properly?
Quite clearly: with a lot of time! In fact, up to a quarter of the total project time is used for planning. Care pays off here: The better the planning, the less needs to be readjusted later. Here are a few points that you should also consider:
- A project does not only consist of tasks - the employees involved are crucial! So think carefully about the people who will make up your team(s).
- Do not forget to set milestones! They are important to measure the progress of the project and are an important psychological component for team motivation.
- Pay attention to early and complete cost planning: When your project is evaluated at the end, its success is also measured by how extensive the post-calculation was.
- Also important: Always include buffers. So that your whole project doesn't falter just because a task takes a little longer.
Why are good project plans so important?
Every project has stakeholders with sometimes different expectations of the project, its implementation and the project result. These stakeholders, who must be taken into account when planning projects, are for example
- the customers or internal departments / clients
- the project management
- (external) consultants
- the implementing staff and their team leaders
If you involve these stakeholders and their demands early enough when planning your projects, you can avoid frictional losses later on. And if you plan your projects online and make them available, everyone involved can keep up to date with the current status - which will save you a lot of questions.
What all belongs to a good project plan?
The general structure, the timing and functional sequence, the distribution of resources and the use of staff: all these (and more) are examples of what needs to be taken into account when planning a project. It is therefore helpful if project management takes individual steps when planning projects. These are usually:
- A work breakdown structure for which you identify all the necessary activities, bundle them into work packages and give the project an overall structure.
- A project flow chart: This is where the work packages are put into a sequence. You have to assess which individual steps can be carried out in parallel and which can only be carried out one after the other. In the schedule, you also define which tasks must be completed before you can continue.
- The time schedule: Whether you create a list of deadlines, which is the easiest way to do it, or whether you use a bar chart or need a network plan in which every project activity is represented as a node: The scope of your project and your personal preferences decide which form of scheduling is best suited to your project planning.
- Resource planning: When planning projects, the available (or newly acquired) resources play a major role. The resources you should take into account include, for example, personnel, materials, equipment and external services.
- Cost and budget planning, which in turn includes the costs of, for example, staff, materials, equipment and external services.
What should a project plan look like?
In principle, this is of course left to the project managers who plan the projects. But if you look at the previous points, you will agree with us: Excel is a great spreadsheet - but your project is not just a calculation. Especially if you want to plan projects more agile and improve the flow of information to the project stakeholders, it is advisable to plan and manage projects online. Dedicated project management software like Can Do will support you in this.
How does Can Do help you plan projects?
Planning projects is an important part of project management work. It is therefore all the more important that your project planning software supports you in the right places. Here are some examples of functions in Can Do that make your work easier when planning projects:
- Decisions during the ongoing project are not made intuitively, but based on a solid database.
- The risk simulation shows you which project steps are still a bit tricky.
- With Can Do, all project participants always have an achievable goal in mind; their individual project progress is visualized. This strengthens the motivation and commitment of the entire team.
- An integrated checklist shows quickly and clearly what needs to be done.
- We have also included a few practical examples to help you plan your projects - quickly, easily and accurately.
But that is not all, of course! We would be happy to explain all the functions and services of the project management software Can Do for planning projects to you personally.
Make an appointment with us now and let us show you how Can Do meets your individual challenges in project planning.