Planning document

Project Planning Documents

Project Planning Process Group Introduction

The Project Planning process group consists of processes that support planning activities for a project or phase, which help gather the necessary information to develop a successful product or service. During project planning, scope is further refined, requirements are developed, work is decomposed, a schedule is developed, cost is further refined and a project plan is developed. The process of further refining the project information is called progressive elaboration. This means that the project plan and details are continuously being refined as more information becomes available, and as the project dictates that changes be made. As a result, project management planning documents are referred to as living documents (e.g., Project Management Plan, Requirements Management Plan).

Project Planning Process Group Activities

The Project Planning group processes involve the most number of knowledge areas according to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). The following activities must be performed in the Project Planning phase. They are organized by project management knowledge area.

Project Integration Management

Develop Project Management Plan:
The Project Management Plan is the top-level plan that describes how to manage the project or phase. Depending on the size of the project or phase, the Project Management Plan could be the top-level plan of a collection of subsidiary plans (e.g., Risk Management Plan)

[View the Project Management Plan Document page to download the Project Management Plan Template]

Project Scope Management

  • Scope Planning: Scope Planning is the process that results in a Project Scope Management Plan, which documents how the project scope will be established and maintained, and how the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) will be developed.
  • Scope Definition: Scope definition is the process necessary for developing a detailed scope statement, which serves as the basis for project decisions.
  • View the Preliminary Scope Statement Document page to download the Preliminary Project Scope Statement Template]
  • Create WBS: Results in a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). A WBS is the result of an exercise that decomposes the project work into manageable components called work packages. The WBS serves as the basis for a schedule. Decomposing all the work into a WBS (and supporting WBS Dictionary) helps reduce the risk of missing pieces of the final product or service.
  • [View details on how to develop a WBS and download the WBS Dictionary tools and templates]
    • Project Time Management

      • Activity Definition:  Activity Definition involves identifying the specific activities that need to be performed to deliver the product or service.  The Project Scope Statement and WBS are used as inputs into the Activity Definition process.
      • Activity Sequencing:  Activity Sequencing is the process necessary to document activity dependencies and sequence the activities.
      • Activity Resource Estimating:  Activity Resource Estimating is the process of estimating the level of effort for each activity in terms of person resource time.  The results of this process include a Resource Breakdown Structure (RBS), resource requirements and a resource calendar.  The resource estimation techniques used at this point in the project are bottom-up — as opposed to the top-down resource estimates earlier in the project like Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) estimates.
      • Activity Duration Estimating:  Activity duration estimates are needed for proper schedule development.  Duration differs from actual estimated level of effort.  For example, an activity could take 1 week for one person to complete.  But if the person can only devote 50% of their time, then it will take the person 2 weeks to complete.  So, in this example, the level of effort is 1 work week, but the duration is 2 work weeks.
      • Schedule Development:  Schedule Development is the process that results in a baselined project schedule.  The schedule is a product of the activity attributes collected above.

      Project Cost Management

      • Cost Estimating:  Cost Estimating uses the information collected in developing the project schedule and resources to develop an approximate cost for each activity.
      • Cost Budgeting:  Cost Budgeting is the process that aggregates the costs of each activity to develop a cost baseline.

      Project Quality Management

      • Quality Planning:  Yes, you must plan quality!  This is often overlooked and assumed as a given.  Quality planning is the process that identifies which quality standards to apply to the project and how to measure them.  This results in a Quality Management Plan, quality metrics, quality checklists, a Process Improvement Plan (if needed), a quality baseline.

      Project Human Resource Management

      • Human Resource Planning:  Human Resource Planning is also a critical, yet often under-appreciated process. Human Resource Planning results in a Staffing Management Plan and projet roles and responsibilities.

      Project Communications Management

      • Communications Planning:  Communication Planning can be critical to the success of a project.  A Communications Management Plan identifies how communication will be managed for the project.  This includes internal communication among the project team as well as external communication.  External communication planning can help set expectations and keeping stakeholders informed of progress.

      Project Risk Management

      • Risk Management Planning:  Risk Management Planning is the process that results in a Risk Management Plan.  The Risk Management Plan helps define the approach to managing risk within the project.
      • Risk Identification: Risk Identification results in a Risk Register, which is a ledger of the identified risks for the project.  The Risk Register must be managed throughout the life of the project.  For more information on Risk and Issue Management, see the Risk and Issue Management Process Primer.
      • Qualitative Risk Analysis:  This process is a technique identified by the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) for prioritizing risks based on a risk score, which is a function of probability and impact.  Again, for more information on Risk and Issue Management, see the Risk and Issue Management Process Primer.
      • Quantitative Risk Analysis:  quantitative Risk Analysis, according to PMBOK, is the process necessary for numerically analyzing the effect of a risk on the project.
      • Risk Response Planning:  Every risk must have a risk response.  In order to mitigate risks, a set of actions must be considered to reduce the threat of risks (negatively impacting risks) on a project.  This involves identifying a mitigation strategy for each risk.  Again, for more information on Risk and Issue Management, see the Risk and Issue Management Process Primer.

      Project Procurement Management

      • Plan Purchases and Acquisitions:  Plan Purchases and Acquisitions is the process necessary for determining what to purchase and how to purchase it.  For example, if the project is going to take, say, three years to complete, you might want to purchase the software and hardware needed for year three activities in year three and not any sooner.  Otherwise, the project will not be able to take advantage of technology improvements (e.g., faster servers, better software, etc.).  The result of this process is a Procurement Management Plan, a Contract Statement of Work (SOW) and Make-or-buy decisions (does it make sense to build in-house or purchase, etc.).
      • Plan Contracting:  Plan contracting is the process necessary to document requirements for potential sellers.  This process results in  procurement documents, seller evaluation criteria (how the sellers will be evaluated), and updates to the Contract Statement of Work.  (NOTE:  Keep in mind that the United States Federal Contracting process and terminology is often different from what is defined in PMBOK.  However, an understanding of the PMBOK Project Procurement Management knowledge area will provide a good foundation to procurement management).

      As is clear from the list of activities above, the Project Planning phase requires planning across multiple knowledge areas.   Taking the time to plan the project is critical.  Every knowledge area (listed above) requires planning during the Project Planning phase.  If the planning of the project and the decomposition of the work is incomplete at the end of the Project Planning phase, then expect quality, cost or schedule issues in later phases — specifically in the Project Execution phase.

      Also keep in mind that this provides general guidance on the expected activities during the Project Planning phase.  The above descriptions have just touched on each activity.  Each of the above listed activities can be broken down into a detailed set of activities.  Think of the above list as a roadmap to guide further research.

      To see how these activities related to other activities in the project life cycle, see table in the Introduction to the Project Life Cycle.