What Is Project Planning? (With Benefits and Parts)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 20, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Businesses launch projects to create new products, develop original methods, and make changes to the organization. Effective project planning helps leaders establish a framework for understanding and preparing for the work ahead. Learning about project planning can help you understand how businesses and leaders get ready to work on significant tasks. In this article, we answer the question, "What is project planning?", explain the benefits of effective planning, consider key parts of a project plan, and provide tips for planning projects.

What is project planning?

Understanding the answer to, "What is project planning?" can help you lead and organize projects more effectively. It's a discipline that focuses on creating an effective framework for working on a significant group undertaking. Project planning involves considering the objectives of the project, defining what a successful project might look like, assessing scheduling, and planning tasks. Planning projects can involve multiple disciplines, including human resources, risk management, accounting, and leadership. Plans consider details such as the nature and purpose of the work, limitations such as time and budget, and the composition of the project team.

Project managers often use project planning methods as they lead their team through the development process. Many innovations in project planning methods come from the software industry, but nearly every business can use project planning to focus on key tasks. Project planning helps leaders assess potential challenges before beginning any work on a project so they can develop strategies to reduce risks. Effective project planning can result in detailed plans to help guide a team as they work together to achieve a specific result.

Related: What Is a Project Planner? (Salary and Responsibilities)

Benefits of effective project planning

Project planning can offer many benefits to a leader or organization. Here are some ways project planning can help an organization:

Defined objectives

Project planning can help a business clarify specific objectives and help team members focus on their work. When a project has a clear purpose and a defined result, it can be easier to set up a work schedule and segment the job into smaller tasks. When management and the project team both understand the scope and purpose of the project, they can work together and communicate effectively. The project planning process can help businesses realize when a project might be unrealistic or difficult to complete and make necessary changes.

Increased communication

The project planning process can help define the roles of each team member and facilitate effective communication. When each team member understands their work and how it fits in with the greater project, they might progress faster. Project planning often includes processes for communication between team leaders and project managers. Managers are typically aware of the progress on each part of the project and update the schedule as necessary. Many project plans also include protocols for management oversight and methods for connecting individual project plans with the objectives of the company.

Reduced expenses

Project plans help teams increase efficiency and reduce unnecessary expenses. Plans often result in a detailed schedule and comprehensive project budget. By accounting for project expenses in advance, managers can track spending and quickly note any aspects of the work going over the budget. Project plans help teams realize when they are behind schedule and take steps to improve progress. Project managers monitor expenses and scheduling issues so their team can complete all work efficiently and reduce expenses.

Reduced risk

Planning can help project managers reduce risk by considering potential dangers in advance and developing methods for reducing exposure. Project planning typically involves risk assessments and the consideration of possible threats to the project. Managers can assess the probability of specific events, create procedures for responding to issues, and consider ways to continue work on the project if an adverse event occurs.

Related: Risk Management Tools to Use in Project Management

Parts of a project plan

Project plans typically include multiple aspects and parts. Here are some common parts of a project plan:

Scope definition

Defining the scope of the project involves identifying the desired end goal and selecting criteria for success. If a team can clearly describe the intended end result of a project, it can make planning easier and increase the chances of reaching the goal. Project plans typically include detailed considerations of the scope of the project and technical and financial goals. For example, a software team might establish a project goal to write a program that makes it easier for users to find rental properties. They might include criteria such as a searchable database and real-time data feeds.

Organizational structure

Project plans consider the organizational structure of a business or team and assign specific roles to each team member. This can take the form of a chart or a list of participants. As part of their consideration of organizational structure, the project team might develop protocols for communication between each level of the project team, making it easy for managers to understand the situation within each working group. Organizational assessments might also include procedures for reporting to upper management concerning project progress and any additional requirements.

Resource assessment

Resource assessment involves considering what resources the project might require and the availability of those resources within the organization. The project team considers what tools can help them achieve their goals and determines how to acquire those tools. Resource assessment can ensure the project budget is accurate and often helps to limit the scope of the project. A project manager might consider available team members, any necessary specialized equipment, and work facilities when allocating resources.

Project schedule

A project schedule defines the amount of time each part of the project can take. Project managers use the schedule to assign specific tasks to each team and estimate the date of completion. This allows managers to watch several simultaneous processes to increase efficiency. Making a schedule for a project involves considering the responsibilities and availability of each team member and determining their expected output. Project planners often use scheduling software to design updatable schedules to use during the project.

Related: Schedule Planning (With Benefits, Steps, and Examples)

Budget

Most project plans include a budget accounting for expected costs and available funds. The budget might consider the salaries of each team member, the cost of materials, and any other project expenses. Creating a project budget can help a business prepare for the costs of work and may help motivate project managers to reduce costs and stay within the approved total. The budget helps a business assess the potential costs of the project and make any necessary changes.

Related: How to Write a Project Budget (Importance and Steps)

Risk assessment

Many project plans include a risk assessment considering potential threats that can impact the project. The risk assessment might consider physical threats to company property, such as natural disasters or equipment failures, as well as operational risks, such as employee errors or process failures. A thorough risk assessment can help managers anticipate issues with the project and prepare methods for dealing with them.

Related: How to Conduct a Risk Assessment (Tips and Definition)

Quality control

Project plans determine quality control methods to assess project progress and quickly correct any issues. Quality control can involve regular tests of parts of the project to identify flaws and devise methods for improvement. For example, a software development team might implement a strategy for regularly testing new code for any bugs during the project.

Communication

Many project plans include procedures for communication from the project team to the wider organization. These can include methods like regular project reports, specialized software applications for chat and updates, or regular phone calls between senior managers and project managers. Project plans often include methods for communication to increase collaboration throughout the organization.

Tips for project planning

Project planning can help a business prepare for every aspect of a large undertaking. Here are some tips for effective project planning:

Research

There are many project planning templates and methods to consider. Before you plan a project, research a range of methods and think about which one might work for your project. Consider the industry you work in, the project goals, and the size of the project teams. The planning process for a small software project can differ significantly from the plan for a new industrial project. Try to learn about project planning philosophies and methods before you choose an approach.

Collaborate

As you create a project plan, try to collaborate with multiple stakeholders to ensure the plan accounts for their interests. A project plan with input from management and team members can lead to a more efficient project process. Ask for input on the project plan from all stakeholders and try to incorporate a range of perspectives.

Update

A project plan typically assesses potential future outcomes and tries to anticipate issues. When work starts on a project, the situation can change quickly and the original plan might require updates. Try to consult the project plan and make changes as you discover new information. If you ensure that the project plan matches the current situation, it can be an effective guide for future work.

Related articles

How to Use a Project Scheduling Template Effectively

Explore more articles