PROJECT PLANNING (CONTD.)
Steps in General Planning Process
Initial Project Coordination
Project Planning Checklist
16.1 Steps in General Planning Process:
In simple terms, planning is determining what needs to be done,
by whom, and by when; in
order to fulfill one's assigned responsibility. There are nine
major components of the planning
A goal, target, or quota to be
achieved by a certain time
The strategy to be followed and
major actions to be taken in order to achieve or exceed objectives
A plan showing when individual or
group activities or accomplishments will be started and/or completed
Planned expenditures required to
achieve or exceed objectives
A projection of what will happen
by a certain time
Design of the number and
kinds of positions, along with corresponding duties and responsibilities, required to achieve or exceed
A general guide for decision
making and individual actions
A detailed method for carrying
out a policy
A level of individual or group
performance defined as adequate or acceptable
Some of these components require additional comment. Forecasting
what will happen may not
be easy, especially if predictions of environmental reactions
are required. For example, planning
is customarily defined as strategic, tactical, or operational.
Strategic planning is generally for
five years or more, tactical can be for one to five years, and
operational is the here and now of
six months to one year. Although most projects are operational,
they can be considered as
strategic, especially if spin-offs or follow-up work is
promising. Forecasting also requires an
understanding of strengths and weaknesses as found in:
- Research and
These factors may be clearly definable, if project planning is
strictly operational. However, if
strategic or long-range planning is necessary, then the future
economic outlook can vary, say,
from year to year, and re-planning must be accomplished at
regular intervals because the goals
and objectives can change.
Because of their uniqueness, the last three factors, policies,
procedures, and standards, can vary
from project to project. Each project manager can establish
project policies, provided that they
fall within the broad limits set forth by top management.
Policies are predetermined general
courses or guides based on the following principles:
policies are supplementary to superior policies.
- Policies are
based upon known principles in the operative areas.
- Policies should
be definable, understandable, and preferably in writing.
- Policies should
be both flexible and stable.
- Policies should
be reasonably comprehensive in scope.
It is essential that the project policies must often conform
closely to company policies, and are
usually similar in nature from project to project. On the other
hand, procedures can be
drastically different from project to project, even if the same
activity is performed. For example,
the signing off of manufacturing plans may require different
signatures on two selected projects
even though the same end-item is being produced.
We can easily say that planning varies at each level of the
organization. At the individual level,
planning is required so that cognitive simulation can be
established before irrevocable actions are
taken. At the working group or functional level, planning must
include the following:
- Agreement on
- Assignment and
acceptance of individual responsibilities
- Coordination of
commitment to group goals
All the organizational or project level, planning must include:
- Recognition and
resolution of group conflict of goals
- Assignment and
acceptance of group responsibilities
motivation and commitment to organizational goals
- Vertical and
- Coordination of
activities between groups
In order for the alternatives and constraints to be fully
understood, the logic of planning requires
answers to several questions. An outline for a partial list of
questions would include:
- Where are we?
- How and why did
we get here?
- Is this where
we want to be?
- Where would we
like to be (in a year, in five years etc.)?
- Where will we
go if we continue as before?
- Is that where
we want to go?
- How could we
get to where we want to go?
- What might
prevent us from getting there?
- What might help
us to get there?
- Where are we
capable of going?
- What do we need
to take us where we want to go?
- What is the
best course for us to take?
- What are the
- What are the
- What do we need
- When do we need
to do it?
- How will we do
- Who will do it?
- Are we on
course? If not, why?
- What do we need
to do to be on course?
- Can we do it?
It is believed that one of the most difficult activities in the
project environment is to keep the
planning on target.
Following are typical procedures that can assist project
managers during planning activities:
- Establish goals
before you plan. Otherwise short-term thinking takes over.
- Set goals for
the planners. This will guard against the nonessentials and places your effort where there is payoff.
- Stay flexible.
Use people-to-people contact, and stress fast response.
- Keep a balanced
outlook. Do not overreact, and position yourself for an upturn.
top-management participation. Top management has the capability to make or break a plan, and may well be the single most important
- Beware of
future spending plans. This may eliminate the tendency to underestimate.
- Test the
assumptions behind the forecasts. This is necessary because professionals are generally too optimistic. Do not depend solely on one set of
- Do not focus on
today's problems. Try to get away from crisis management and fire fighting.
- Reward those
who dispel illusions. Reward the first to come forth with bad news.
It is crucial that project's objectives be clearly tied to
overall mission of firm. Senior
management should define firm’s intent in undertaking project,
outline scope of project, and
describe project's desired results. Without clear beginning,
project planning can easily go astray.
It is also vital that senior manager call and be present at
initial coordinating meeting as visible
symbol of top management’s commitment to project.
At the beginning, meeting is conducted in which, project is
discussed in sufficient detail that
potential contributors develop general understanding of what is
needed. If project is one of
many similar projects, meeting will be quite short and routine,
sort of “touching base” with
other interested units. If project is unique in most of its
aspects, extensive discussion may be
Whatever the process, outcome must be that:
1. Technical objectives are established (though perhaps not
“cast in concrete)
2. Basic areas of performance responsibility are accepted by
3. Some tentative schedules and budgets are spelled out. It is
important that each
individual/unit accepting responsibility for portion of project
should agree to deliver,
before next project meeting, preliminary but detailed plan about
how that responsibility
will be accomplished. Such plans should contain descriptions of
required tasks, budgets
After this, these plans are then reviewed by groups and combined
into composite project plan.
Composite plan, that is still not completely final, is approved
by each participating group, by
project manager, and then by senior organizational management.
Each subsequent approval
hardens plan somewhat, and when senior management has endorsed
it, any further changes
must be made by processing formal change order. However, if
project is not large or complex,
informal written memoranda can substitute for change order. Main
point is that no significant
changes in project are made, without written notice, following
top management's approval.
Definition of “significant” depends on specific situation and
It is generally the responsibility of the project manager to
task responsibility for gathering
necessary approvals and assuring that any changes incorporated
into plan at higher levels are
communicated to, and approved by, units that have already signed
off on plan. Nothing is as
sure to enrage functional unit managers as to find that they
have been committed by someone
else to alterations in their carefully considered plans with out
being informed. Violation of this
procedure is considered betrayal of trust. Several incidents of
this kind occurred in firm during
project to design line of children’s clothing. Anger at this
change without communication was
so great that two chief designers resigned and took jobs wit
Project manager should always return to contributing units for
consideration and re-approval of
plans as modified, because the senior manages are almost certain
to exercise their prerogative to
change plan. Final, approved result of this procedure is project
plan, also known as master plan,
or baseline plan.
16.2.1 Outside Clients:
Fundamental planning process is unchanged (except for the fact
cannot be altered without client's permission), when project is
to deliver product/service
(often referred to as project's deliverables) to outside
client(s). Common “planning”
problem in these cases is that marketing has promised
deliverables that engineering may
not know how to produce on schedule that manufacturing may be
unable to meet. This
sort of problem usually result when various functional areas are
not involved in
planning process at time original proposal is made to potential
In this regard, two objections to such early participation by
manufacturing are likely to be raised by marketing. First sales
arm of organization is
trained to sell and is expected to be fully conversant with all
technical aspects of firm’s
products/services. Further, salespeople are expected to be
knowledgeable about design
and manufacturing lead times and schedules. On the other hand,
it is widely assumed by
marketing (with some justice on occasion) that manufacturing and
design engineers do
not understand sales techniques, will be argumentative and/or
pessimistic about client
needs in presence of client, and are generally not “housebroken”
when customers are
Secondly, it is expensive to involve so much technical talent so
early in sales process –
typically, prior to issuing proposal. It can easily cost firm
more than $10,000 to send
five technical specialists on trip to consider potential
client’s needs. Willingness to
accept higher sales costs puts even more emphasis on selection
It is usually cheaper, faster and easier to do things right
first time than to redo them.
Thus, rejoinder to such objections is simple. When
product/service is complex system
that must be installed in larger, more complex system, it is
appropriate to treat sale like
project. Sale is also a project and deserves same kind of
planning. Great many firms
that consistently operate in atmosphere typed by design and
manufacturing crises have
created their own panics. In fairness, it is appropriate to urge
that anyone meeting
customers face to face should receive some training in tactics
For a given project plan, approvals really amount to series of
manager is authorized to direct activities, spend monies
(usually within preset limits)
request resources and personnel, and start project on its way.
approval not only signals its willingness to fund and support
project, but also notifies
subunits in organization that they may commit resources to
16.3 Project Planning Checklist:
These are described below for different areas of operations:
- Facility turnover sequence
- Temporary facilities, offices, warehousing, etc
- Tool and equipment requirements
- Labor availability and productivity
- Work week and productivity impact
- Climatic affects on field work
- Field engineering assistance required
- Extent of subcontracting
- Field organization and staffing
1. Procurement sources (equipment, materials)
2. Home office versus field procurement
3. Long lead time items
4. Logistical planning
- Source(s) of technology
- Codes, specifications and standards to be utilized
- Utilization of consultants
- Early work
- Requisitioning priorities
- Drawing priorities
- Vendor data requirements
- Utilization of scale models
- Manpower requirements
- Approval requirements
- Organization and staffing
- Utilization of prefabricated modules
- Audit of design and equipment for conformance to
- Checking of calculation and drawings
- Shop inspection of equipment and fabricated items
- Certification of materials
- Certificate of welding procedures
- Receiving and inspection of equipment and materials
- Jobsite storage and environmental protection of equipment and
- Construction inspection
- Cash flow requirement
- Progress payments and billing frequency
- Impact of financial sources