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2.0       Planning


Devising and maintaining a workable scheme to accomplish the business need that the project was undertaken to address.


During this process a project or phase of a project is planned.  The amount of planning performed should be commensurate with the scope and the usefulness of the information developed.  

The planning process is two fold.  It involves developing the core work plans – work activities, business transition management, resources, sequencing, and timing, while at the same time developing plans to control the project or phase.  Collectively, the plans represent what is required to create the solution and manage all aspects of the work.  Depending on the business need, the technical complexity, and who must be involved, a project or phase may require more, or possibly fewer plans to manage and control the work execution.  The business and technical complexity assessment in the Initiating phase gives guidelines to determine how much planning is recommended.

The project plan development takes the results of the planning process activities and puts them into an integrated, consistent, and coherent document to ensure that all of the various elements of the work and business transition efforts are properly coordinated.  The planning activities may include as an example developing the work activities, schedule, budget, communications, quality assurance, training, business transition management, and contracting plans.  (refer to the DEPARTMENTAL-Office of Contracts & Procurement Contract Process for additional information).  The results of these activities are collected into an Integrated Project Plan. 

An Integrated Project Plan is a document or collection of documents that should be expected to change over time as more information becomes available about the project.



·         To create an initial plan that is focused upon the agreed scope, objectives and problems that the project must resolve.

·         To obtain a common understanding and agreement of the work and resources required to creating a solution and managing all aspects of the phase or project including product delivery and business acceptance.

·         To collectively obtain commitment from the sponsor, project manager, project team, and other affected groups as to how the work activities, roles and responsibilities, and administrative aspects of the project are to be assigned and performed.

·         To reiteratively update the project plan as changes occur on the project and as new information becomes available.

Planning Lessons

Common lessons learned from skipping or poorly executing the planning phase are:

·         Project strays from its original goals.

·         Late discovery that there are inadequate resources (funds, staff, facilities, or tools) to deliver the expected product or service.

·         Resources are over-committed on the project or on other projects.

·         Lengthy, repetitive, and large meetings to discuss what needs to be done and how to coordinate.

·         Difficulty obtaining and coordinating resources when they are needed.

·         Business, technical team, and consumer frustration caused by poorly defined, communicated, and coordinated work activities.

·         Issues are not well understood and decisions are repetitively re-opened or re-addressed.

Input to Planning

1.    Project Charter.  The Project Charter is discussed in 1.0 Initiating.  However, the importance of the Project Charter is that it contains the agreed upon level of planning required for the project.  It should indicate the level of formality required for each of the plans discussed later in this section.

2.    Historical Information.  The available historical information (e.g., estimating data, lessons learned, activities required on previous, similar projects) should be considered when defining, estimating and planning the project.

3.    Organizational Policies.  Any and all of the organizations involved in the project may have formal or informal policies whose effects must be considered.  Organizational policies which typically must be considered include, but are not limited to:

·  Quality Assurance Review by a third party on projects over $1,000,000.00. (1 Million US Dollars) is recommended.

·  Financial Controls – time reporting, expenditure and disbursement reviews, accounting codes, standard contract and procurement provisions.

·  Decision and Authority Policies – Policies of the state, the organization, and internal to the organization.  These policies indicate who has authority over what decisions are made in regard to the project. 

Constraints.  The constraints are discussed in 1.0 Initiating.

Assumptions.  The assumptions are discussed in 1.0 Initiating.


Planning -Process Activities

The process is a course of proven actions used to guide the organization through the planning phase.  Performing these activities has been proven to reduce the amount of risk and rework in later phases of a project. 

It’s a work process – not document creation



Performing the process is the primary effort, not creating a document.  Creating the document or deliverable is secondary.

The processes are intended to obtain a common understanding and agreement.  Writing the information down informally (white board, e-mail, notes) facilitates the evolution of a common understanding and agreement.  The written information serves as a communication vehicle to the project team and stakeholders.

Once broad understanding is obtained, formulating an accurate, concise, and readable deliverable from the information is appropriate.  Using a deliverable template provides an organizationally consistent method to document project information.


Remember  - The planning process overlaps other processes


It is important to remember that a broad or preliminary plan may be all that is needed or feasible at the time to get started with some of the execution work.  Remember the planning process overlaps the other processes as depicted below.  Many times it is necessary to do some of the execution work, (i.e. requirements, analysis, and sometimes design) before a more definitive plan can be put in place.  The planning is accomplished over the course of the project by progressively detailing the work to be accomplished as each major milestone is reached.  

This approach is highly recommended when working with staff and customers who have low tolerance levels in seeing work begin on the product. 

Text Box: Level of Activity

Planning Process Activities Diagram

The process activities are diagramed then followed by brief description of each activity.  The diagram is numbered to correspond to the “Project Management – Overview Reference” located in the Introduction of this process guide. 

The description follows the diagram and each process step is numbered.  A title is indicated in bold in the left-hand column.  In addition to the title, the recommended template to document the outcomes of the process step is indicated in parentheses.  In some cases the process step outcome is recorded in a section of the “Integrated Project Plan” template.  In other cases the outcomes are recorded in a separate planning template, i.e. “Communication Plan”.


4. Develop Project Scope

(Integrated Project Plan)








Determine How Changes will be Managed

(Integrated Project Plan and Optionally Formal Change Management Plan)

Developing the Project Scope includes performing those activities required to ensure that the project includes all the work required, and only the work required, to complete the project successfully.  This the work to develop the product and the business transition processes to ensure that the customer is ready to accept the delivered product and the end of the project.

A written scope statement is the basis for future project decisions.  It documents the agreement between the project team and the project customer by making known what is and is not to be part of the project.  Then the scope statement includes primary objectives, major deliverable milestones, assumptions, constraints and completion criteria.  These will be the criteria used to determine if the project or phase has been completed successfully.

If all the elements of the scope statement are already available (e.g. a product description may identify the major deliverables, the project charter may define objectives) this activity may involve little more than physically copying the information into the integrated project plan document.

During the development of the scope statement decisions must be made as to how the project will manage project and product scope or requirement changes.  Product scope changes are changes that impact the agreed upon primary objectives and/or major product deliverables.  How product and project scope changes will be managed is the basis of the change management plan for the project.  The change management plan may be formal or informal.  However it is completed it is a subsidiary element of the “Integrated Project Plan” and at a minimum should include an assessment of the expected stability of the scope (i.e., how likely is it to change, how frequently, and by how much).  The plan typically includes agreements to a) evaluate changes to determine if they are beneficial, b) determine that a scope change has occurred, and c) manage the actual changes when and if they occur.

The process and tools described in the Project Change Management Plan is the projects Change Control System.  For some projects, a very rigorous change control system may be referred to as either configuration management or requirements management.  Requirements Management should be used if the project risk requires a documented procedure to apply technical and administrative direction and surveillance to:

  • Identify and document the functional and physical characteristics of an item or system.
  • Control any changes to such characteristics.
  • Record and report the change and its implementation status.
  • Audit the items and system to verify conformance to requirements.


5.  Define and Sequence Activities

(Integrated Project Plan – WBS)

Defining the project’s work activities is done by subdividing the major deliverables (as identified in the scope statement) into smaller, more manageable components in order to:

·         Improve the accuracy of cost, time, and resource estimates.

·         Define a baseline for performance measurement and control.

·         Facilitate clear responsibility assignment.

These activities should represent the major deliverables and should include all work activities including the project management work activities and work activities that are the result of the other project plans, i.e. the Quality Management Plan.

The decomposition of the major deliverable into work activities and then tasks is referred to as the Work Breakdown Structure. 

There are many methods to develop the work breakdown structure.  Please see “WBS Development Techniques” in the “Tools and Techniques” section.  This reference points you to the various standard lifecycle models available.

Determining the critical work dependencies sequences these work activities in order to support later development of a realistic and achievable schedule.  Initial assignment of the critical dependencies can be done in the Integrated Project Plan Template, WBS section.  More complex projects will need to use a scheduling tool to create a Project Network Diagram. 

Many projects attempt to define and sequence the activities at the same time they are building the project schedule.  Attempting to build a schedule before activities have been defined and sequenced has been repeatedly proven to lengthen the time it takes to develop an accurate schedule.

6.  Estimate Activity Durations and Determine Resource Needs

(Integrated Project Plan)

At this point an initial estimate of the likely duration of each of the defined activities is obtained, ideally, from a person or couple of people who are most familiar with the nature of work activity.  The duration estimate does not take into account the number of people expected to perform the activity or task. 

Often it is difficult to find someone who is willing to or has the expertise to do the duration estimate.  Under this scenario, a couple people involved with the planning need to make a duration estimate using their best judgement.  

Additional refinement of the estimate is done during schedule development.

7.  Determine How Quality will be Managed

(Integrated Project Plan and optionally Formal Quality Management Plan)

Quality Planning involves identifying which quality standards and/or metrics are relevant to the project and determining how to satisfy them.  Quality standards should address both product quality and process quality.  Ideally the Quality Management Plan must address how quality assurance and control for the project will be conducted.  The goal is to plan quality into the project as opposed to auditing quality into the project.

Quality Assurance identifies the activities or tasks that must be performed in the project to provide confidence that the project will satisfy the relevant quality standards.

Quality Control involves monitoring both the products and process to determine if the project is meeting the quality standards as well as identifying ways to eliminate causes of unsatisfactory results.

On projects where the total cost of the project is expected to exceed $1,000.000 a third party is expected to perform the Quality Management Activities.  Typically they would work with the project management team and the Department of Administrative Services QA Analyst to create the Quality Management Plan, determine the appropriate quality assurance activities and activity estimates, and conduct the Quality Assurance. 

8.  Determine How to Meet the Communica-tion Needs

(Integrated Project Plan and optionally Formal Communica-tion Plan)

Communication Planning involves determining the information and communication needs of the stakeholders: who needs what information, who will give it to them, how will it be given, and when.  The detail of the Communication Plan will vary widely from project to project and should be based on what is suitable communication to enable project and business transition success.  A formal Communication Plan covers not only who needs what information, when will they need it, how will it be given to them, and by whom, but also:

·        A collection and filing structure which details what methods will be used to gather, store, update, and disseminate various types of information.

·         A distribution structure that details to whom information (status reports, data, schedule, documentation, news) will flow and what methods/media will be used to distribute them.

·         The method for closing the project and filing or archiving the project or phase information.

·         The method for how the communication plan will be updated over the course of the project.

9.  Develop Schedule

(Integrated Project Plan and Optionally Scheduling Tool)

Schedule Development means determining start and finish dates for the project activities defined and allocation of the resources to these activities.  This process is iterated as the other planning process steps provide the inputs (especially activity definition, duration estimating, resources requirements, and cost estimating) prior to final determination of the project schedule.

Developing the schedule can be done informally in a table or spreadsheet when the number of activities is approximately 20, relationships are not complex, and analysis of critical path is fairly simple to manually assess. 

For moderate to complex projects a scheduling tool is highly recommended to do the critical path analysis and resource allocation.  The tool typically combines critical path analysis and resource leveling based on the project calendar to establish the start and end dates for each activity.

Currently the department is using Microsoft Project as the scheduling tool and a basic project template is available on the PMO Web site under templates/planning. 

Inputs to schedule development include the WBS containing the activity definitions, duration estimate; resource needs and in more complex projects a Project Network Diagram, which indicates the projects work activity relationships in a diagram.

Other things to consider are the normal or irregular work hours under which the project will be scheduled.  What will the project calendar be?  Will it be Monday through Friday 8-5, with holidays and vacations exempted?  Or will shift hours and weekends be open to scheduling the work activities.

Other considerations are constraints, such as imposed dates for completion of certain deliverables and key events or major milestones that cannot be moved without great difficulty.

10.  Estimate Resource Costs

(Integrated Project Plan and Cost Estimate Spreadsheet and/or Scheduling Tool)

Estimating resource costs involves developing an approximation (estimate) of the costs of the resources needed to complete the project activities.  The question to be answered is “how much will it cost the organization to provide the product or service involved?”

Cost estimating involves identifying and considering various cost alternatives.  For example, will more work during the design phase reduce the cost of the construction phase? 

Costs should be estimated for all resources to be used on the project.  This includes all internal and external labor, materials, supplies, contracts, and special costs not normally a consideration (i.e. facility costs, legal costs, team training costs).

Cost estimates should be expressed in dollars.  This may require that costs estimated in hours be converted using a calculation to dollar costs.  Generally, the calculation for internal staff is average project staff salary + (average project staff salary * 80% fringe and benefits).  If this estimate is required care should be taken not to mix internal labor hours with external labor hours or other costs.  This will allow flexibility to show the cost figures with and without internal labor hours for some of the stakeholders.

Finally, cost estimates are refined during the course of the project to reflect the additional detail available as the project progresses.  The cost estimates should be definitive just prior to construction.

There are three cost estimating techniques available for estimating. 

11.  Organize and Acquire Staff

(Integrated Project Plan and Setup Project Files)

Organizing the project includes identifying, documenting, and assigning project roles and responsibilities as they relate to the work defined, as well as acquiring the staff and setting up the electronic and or hardcopy project files and supporting procedures. 

Role and responsibility assignments may require developing a Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) and/or a project organization chart with descriptions of each of the roles.  The purpose of developing these is to get a common understanding of their responsibilities for those assigned to the project.

Staff acquisition may require negotiations with the responsible functional managers for the appropriate resources or negotiations with other project managers where resources will be shared.  In some cases, internal staff may be pre-assigned; in others the project procurement process can be used to obtain specific staff.

How the project will manage project documentation should be determined.  A standard electronic project library structure is strongly recommended for storing the various project information.  In many cases a hardcopy version of the final draft is also maintained. 

12.  Determine What to Procure and When

(Integrated Project Plan and Optionally Formal Procurement Plan & SOWs)

Procurement planning identifies which project needs can be best met by procuring products or services outside the project organization.  The questions to be answered are whether or not to procure, how to procure, what to procure, how much to procure, and when to procure it.  A procurement plan communicates how all the procurements/contracts will be managed solicitation planning, solicitation, and source selection, to contract administration and contract closeout.  The plan may be formal or informal, highly detailed or broadly framed, and/or based on the needs of the project and/or organization.

In addition to the procurement plan, the procurement documents must be prepared.  The Statement(s) of Work (SOW) required should be developed in sufficient detail to allow a prospective vendor to determine if they are capable of providing the item.  SOWs generally fall into two categories, one for contracting for a specifically described product or service, and the other for presenting a problem that is to be solved.  Sometimes the second type of SOW may be called a Statement of Requirements. 

Other procurement documents that may be needed are the Invitation to Bid (IFB), Request for Proposal (RFP), Request for Quotation (RFQ), and Evaluation Criteria to rate or score the proposals.  Generally, evaluation criteria include:

·         Understanding of the Need – as demonstrated by the vendor’s proposal.

·         Overall Cost – Will the vendor’s solution produce the lowest total cost for implementation and ability to maintain or operate?

·         Technical Capability – Does the vendor have or has proven ability to acquire the technical skills and knowledge needed?

·         Management approach – Does the vendor have or be reasonably expected to use internal management processes to ensure a successful project?

·         Financial Capacity – Does the vendor have, or can they be reasonably expected to obtain, the financial resources needed?

As a final note, these steps are all part of procurement planning for the project; the actual solicitation process is part of the execution phase.  How early solicitation is performed in the execution phase is determine by the initial project plan that is coordinating all project work activities to be executed, including solicitation work activities.

13.   Build Budget and Spending Plan

(Integrated Project Plan and Optionally Formal Cost Management Plan and/or scheduling tool)

Most projects will develop some level of budget information and some will also develop a spending plan.  Project budgeting involves assigning all the cost estimates to individual work activities or tasks on the project schedule to establish a cost baseline.  By assigning the estimates to the schedule a time-phased budget or spending plan can be created to show budget by month.  For example, by allocating to the major categories in the cost estimating step:

·         All internal labor – Internal staff within The Department.

·         All external labor – Staff external to the Department, but not contracted.

·         Materials and Supplies. 

·         Contracts – All contract costs including contracted staff.

·         Special Costs—Those not normally a consideration (i.e. facility costs, legal costs, or team training costs).

A budget by month and by cost category can be established and utilized later to track actual cost against planned costs.

14.  Identify Risk & Create Risk Response Plan

(Integrated Project Plan and Optionally Risk Management Plan)

Risk planning involves determining and defining:

·         Which risks are likely to affect the project,

·         Evaluating the risks to assess range of possible outcomes, and

·         How the risks will be mediated if they occur or defining how the planned work activities will be modified and at what cost to avoid selected risks from occurring.

Common sources of risk include:

·         Insufficient business transition planning.

·         Changes in requirements

·         Design errors, omissions, and misunderstandings.

·         Poorly defined or understood roles and responsibilities.

·         Poor estimates or unsupported estimates.

·         Insufficiently skilled staff.

·         Impossible time frames.

15.  Integrate the Plans

(Integrated Project Plan)

Integrating the Project’s Plans uses the outputs of the previous steps re-iteratively to create a consistent, coherent document that can be used to guide both project execution and project control.  This step maybe iterated several times, for example the initial draft may include generic resources and undated durations while the final plan reflects specific resources and explicit dates.  The Integrated project plan is used to:

·         Guide project execution.

·         Guide business acceptance and preparation.

·         Document project planning assumptions and decision regarding work alternatives chosen.

·         Facilitate communication among stakeholders.

·         Provide the baseline information for progress or performance measurement and project control.

The Integrated Project Plan is a document or collection of documents that should be expected to change over time, as more information becomes available to the project.  The baselines are controls that will, in general, change only intermittently and then usually only in response to an approved scope change.

Output From Planning

1.    Integrated Project Plan – as defined is step 15 of this chapter.

2.    Updated Project Charter - The Project Charter is discussed in 1.0 Initiating.  However, the Project Charter is likely to have been updated with additional commitments on staff, plans, and controls during the planning process.

3.    Supporting Detail –

  • Outputs from other planning processes that are not included or referenced in the integrated project plan.
  • Additional information or documentation generated during development of the project plan (e.g. constraints and assumptions that were not previously known).
  • Technical documentation; such as, a history of all research, assessments, requirements, designs.
  • Documentation of relevant standards

Tools and Techniques

Project Planning Methodology

WBS Development Techniques

Estimating Techniques





















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