Development Cooperation Handbook/Designing and Executing Projects/Detailed Planning or design stage

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Detailed Planning or design stage

According to the the PMI terminology, project detailed planning is the third stage of the project life. It follows project initiation and is followed by project execution and control stage .

In project detailed planning we list all the requirements that will be needed by the executing team in order to deliver the expected project outputs within the agreed costs and time frames.

(Note: Planning is not a rigid cage: it is the set of baseline decisions that leads the action and as new events occur, evaluation and re-planning is required in order to change the basic design and confront the events with congruity of purpose.)

In the project initiation we identified project objectives and outputs, now in project detailed planning we identify:

  • the activities required to produce and deliver the outputs,
  • the resources required
  • the time required.

In detailed planning we divide the whole action into tasks and figure out the time and the resources, both human and material, required for each task. Then we calculate the cost necessary for performing each tasks, calculate the cost of the whole project and decide how to raise the financial resources required for covering these costs. Finally we decide how we assign the tasks to the persons who will execute them, how we will select them and how we will supervise and coordinate them.


The Work Breakdown StructureEdit

At the core of project designing, is the development of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), i.e. a hierarchical structure that is used to organize tasks for reporting schedules and tracking costs. Generally new WBS are re-adaptations of WBS already used in earlier projects. Modifications are based on lessons learned from the previous projects, on the new need analysis of the context of the new project and on the structure and competences of the new work team. That is why it is desirable that at this stage the person designated to be the project manager is involved directly in this phase, so as to allow her/him to contribute in designing and not treat her/him just as an implementer. Specific development sectors generally include typical development activities. Good organizations record their knowledge in Books recording sector of activity standards for use by cost and schedule estimators.

The WBS creation involves:

  • Listing all the project outputs (deliverables and other direct results);
  • The identification of all the activities required to deliver the outputs.
  • The subdivision of these activities into sub-activities and tasks.
  • The identification of the deliverable and milestone(s) of each task
  • The identification of the time usage of all the resources (personnel and material) required to complete each task.

The purpose of developing a WBS is to:

  • Allow easier management of each component.
  • Allow accurate estimation of time, cost, and resource requirements.
  • Allow easier assignment of human resources.
  • Allow easier assignment of responsibility for activities).

This proceeds according the following steps:

  • Activity Definition
  • Activity Sequencing
  • Activity Resource Estimating
  • Activity Duration Estimating
  • Schedule Development
  • and describe the choices made in the project plan document, that is the deliverable that terminates the designing phase.

See more details in ⇒ Guideline: how to prepare a detailed project plan document

In Development Cooperation Projects a project plan will generally also include "logical framework that summarizes the plan and represents it in a table showing the inter linkages between objectives, outputs, activities, resources, presuppositions and indicators and sources of information . (see the logical framework)

Deciding Project Action MethodologyEdit

In a sense there is no fundamental difference between describing the activities and describing the methodology.

However it is a good practice to make explicit statements about the way the project decisions are participated and how the project results will lead to a non-ephemeral change (i.e. how the project will be sustainable.

Guildeline: How can we plan a project so as to ensure that is sustainable?

The Project Plan DocumentEdit

The Project Plan Document is the deliverable that terminates the designing phase (and opens the of execution phase of the programme cycle management) is the Project Management stages.

Once the Project Plan Document is ready some organization prepare a Project Charter, i.e. a smaller version of the document to be made available to all project stakeholders - everyone who may associated with the project, reaching as wide an audience as practical.

Guideline: How to prepare a detailed project plan document
Template The project Plan Document

A project plan will generally also include a Logical Framework

By the term "baseline" in general we refer to the conditions that exist at a given point, usually the start point, of an activity, study, or project. Establishing the project baseline (i.e. The project Plan Document approved by the project sponsors) is the formal end of the planning phase and the beginning of project execution and control.

This baseline is the reference meter for the project manager for budget, schedule, and project scope. After the initial iterative planning process, the planning baselines must be frozen, i.e. the executing team should not be able to modify it without the prior consultation and approval from the major stakeholders and sponsors who agreed to the project charter.

Note: It is advisable if the project plan considers also the standard procedures for authorization of changes in the project scope, budget, schedule. (see Manage Change Control Process)

Tools for Project Detailed planningEdit

See alsoEdit