How to plan a project?
When you decide to outsource your software development, there are a couple of questions you need to ask and decisions to make. You should decide what type of software you need and carefully choose your software development partner. If you have not decided yet, this article might help you make up your mind when choosing the right software house. Project management is one of the factors you should take care of. Also, ask your future partner about the project plan, how they are going to create it and what will it contain to ensure the whole project will be in good hands.
Some say that project management is universal in many industries. Using one method, we can accomplish goals and end up with a positive outcome. But industries differ from each other. The whole process of project development should be carefully adjusted to the company, industry and the project itself.
Steps to success
Whatever the project, it needs first to be properly planned by the project contractor. It is one of the most important steps in ensuring that the plan will be delivered on-time and on-budget. To be effective, the project plan should communicate the scope of the whole project, including deliverables and what to expect, timing and schedules, but also team roles and responsibilities. These early considerations are to avoid future issues affecting the overall success of a project. So, what are the main steps that should be taken to ensure the project will be done correctly?
- Stakeholders identification and cooperation
A stakeholder is anybody who is affected by the result of a project plan, for example, customers and end-users. All the stakeholders should be identified to keep their interests in mind during the process of delivering the project. Many discussions can be expected in this part of a project. The software development partner should know the clear project scope, budget and timeline and based on that information, create a Scope Statement to get everybody on the same page.
- Goals prioritisation
Once a list of stakeholders is made, it should be prioritised, and specific project goals should be set. We need to create project objectives. It is not efficient to work with a project where “everything is important”. There should always be something more important to know what to take care of first or what to put the pressure on. Developer’s goals and stakeholders’ needs should be written down to guide future work.
- Definition of deliverables
Deliverables and outcomes should also be very clearly identified and presented. With all that information and a clear scope, a more detailed project plan can be created. What are the expected specific outcomes? The answer to that question should be known by everybody working on a project. When the deliverables are identified, they can also be time-bound. It might also be a good idea to set a few milestones for essential deadlines.
- Project schedule creation
Firstly, a series of tasks to accomplish every goal, and each deliverable must be defined. Then each task needs to be carefully analysed and described. How much time will it take? What resources are necessary? Who will be responsible for execution? With all that information, it is possible to identify dependencies. What needs to be done to proceed to the next task? All the information gathered should also be presented clearly on a timeline. One of the best ways to do this is to use a Gantt chart.
- Risk assessment
No project is risk-free. Project Managers cannot cross their fingers and hope everything will work out. They should answer critical, risk-related questions in advance to ensure that unpredicted events will be minimised. Are there any issues that might affect the project that we know of? What unforeseen circumstances could create problems? All aspects of the work should be thought of. For instance, possible annual leave for key developers, a busy season, relocation of headquarters etc. Risk assessment should be conducted and developed into a risk management strategy.
- Project plan presentation
Everything that has been worked out should be presented to the stakeholders. The clients of the software house have the final word. Are all the needs of a client met? Is the plan suitable for their vision? An open discussion is vital at this stage of planning. Roles should also be determined and approved by the decision-makers. At this stage, a project plan will or will not be approved.
Various industries and project types differ from each other and each one should be properly planned. Pay attention to what your contractor plans to do and make sure to provide them with all the information they need as clearly as it is possible. Remember that you are partners in this project and you should support each other. With knowledge of the planning process you might be more helpful in creating a sustainable plan that will ensure your project will be delivered on-time and on-budget.
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