Building Blocks of Project Work Planning

In my previous posts, I laid out the basics, the framework and the key documents for planning a project end-to-end. Now it's time to dive deeper.

One of the most essential project planning stages is to establish the grounds for the project work. Planning and defining the project work starts with defining the "what" of the project.

Before you can begin, you must understand the business needs and identify the project deliverables and its characteristics. You must set the boundaries of the project by establishing what the project will and will not deliver, and break down the project work into smaller and more manageable work units.

The building blocks of project work planning have four main steps:

  1. Collect the project requirements
  2. Facilitate a requirements workshop
  3. Define the project scope
  4. Break down the work in small work units
Collecting requirements is the process of understanding the customer needs, the business use-cases or the required product features and functionality that the project will deliver. It's an elicitation process, a discovery and analysis endeavor, rather than just a gathering effort.

The requirements elicitation process should be facilitated and not done by yourself. Therefore, do this. Get the appropriate project stakeholders together. Organize focused requirements workshops. Interview, brainstorm and job shadow to glean information.

Defining the project scope involves prioritizing the collected requirements, and deciding what's in and out of scope based on such factors as criticality, priority, urgency, constraints, complexity, risks and costs.

The scope covers the project deliverables and all project requirements, along with their detailed descriptions and the related constraints and assumptions. The scope illustrates the entire work that the project will carry out, as well as the project boundaries.

The part of the work planning that generates action is the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The WBS enhances the project scope understanding by decomposing the project work and deliverables into smaller and more manageable work units, also called work packages. The WBS defines granularly the "whats" of the project.

Do you agree with these steps? How many steps do you use for project work planning?

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