The purpose of planning a project is to make sure it is completed on time, within budget and that it meets the customer’s requirements. If the planning stage of a project is skimped, there may be major areas which have not received enough attention and which will have an adverse effect on the success of the project, no matter how good; as the truism states “Fail to plan and you plan to fail“.

It is imperative that you identify the requirements of the customer. The project must have a timescale that is clear and achievable and a cost/benefit analysis should be complete and satisfactory. Basically, a cost-benefit analysis finds, quantifies, and adds all the positive factors. These are the benefits. Then it identifies, quantifies, and subtracts all the negatives, the costs.

Remember a project needs to be worth doing otherwise there is no point to it. Therefore:

Positive minus negative (must equal to a POSITIVE to make the project worth doing).

Writing a Concept Report at this stage will confirm that each team member knows exactly what is expected of them.

A Concept Report should contain a brief outline of the scope of the project. (The scope represents boundaries that the project could cross but shouldn’t). These need to be defined and the responsibilities of each group member should also be documented.  Any working methods that are going to be used should be highlighted.

A working method is a body of practices, procedures, and rules set up by the team to be used by the team.  e.g. how often they are going to meet or all team members working on a task must inform others of task completion date etc

Any appropriate Methodologies. (e.g. System Development Life Cycle, Prince2) should also be described in this report.  All Projects need some form of organisation. These methodologies form the framework for planning and controlling the creation of a project.

Structured project management means managing the project in a logical, organised way, following defined steps. An example of a structured project management approach would be the System Development Life Cycle, where Analysis, Design, Implementation, Maintenance and Review are the defined stages and various tasks are done within them with a Milestone at the end of each stage.

Another methodology that encompasses the management, control and organisation of a project is Prince2 (Projects in Controlled Environments).

Next:  Overview of the Software Development Life Cycle