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What is project planning?

Definition: Project planning is a crucial part of project management focused on creating a detailed plan that outlines the steps and resources necessary to achieve the project's objectives, including identifying the project's scope, establishing a timeline, assigning tasks and resources, and budgeting for the project. 

Project planning is an iterative process, and the project plan may need to be adjusted as the project progresses. It is important to regularly review and update the project plan to ensure that it stays on track and meets its objectives.

Phases of project planning

Project planning is a critical element of project management, as it sets the stage for the entire project. There are eight steps:

  1. Define the goals and objectives of the project

Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. This includes the milestones and smaller tasks the team must complete by the end of the project. It is important to get input from all stakeholders when creating the work plan to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

  1. Develop the project plan

Define the project's scope by creating a work breakdown structure, schedule, and budget. The work breakdown structure details the tasks that need to be completed, the schedule outlines the timeline for the project, while the budget identifies the resources required and costs associated with the project.

  1. Identify the project risks

The project manager makes a plan for the unexpected. This includes possible solutions to manage potential risk. A contingency plan is included in case something goes wrong.

  1. Create a communication plan

The communication plan dictates who's to be updated on the project’s progress and how often. This ensures everyone is on the same page.

  1. Assign roles and responsibilities

Each team member needs to know what is expected of them. This includes their deliverables and deadlines. The project manager assigns tasks depending on each member's strengths and weaknesses. This ensures tasks are completed effectively, and the project stays on track.

  1. Obtain approvals

The project lead presents the plan to the company's CEO for approval. Once approved, the head of marketing is responsible for ensuring that all tasks are completed on time and within budget. 

  1. Launch the project

A kickoff meeting marks the beginning of the execution phase. It sets the pace for the project. This is when the team puts all the pieces together and starts working towards the project goals. To organize a successful kickoff meeting:

  • Ensure all the stakeholders are in attendance. Reschedule if a key person is unavailable on the chosen day.
  • Create a detailed, clear and concise agenda.
  1. Monitoring and evaluation

The project manager monitors and adjusts the plan as needed to ensure the successful completion of the project.

Types of project planning

The type of planning depends on the nature of the project and personal preferences. There are three types of project planning: vertical, horizontal, and joint.

Vertical planning

Also known as waterfall planning, vertical planning is when the project manager plans the different phases of the project sequentially, from start to finish.

Horizontal planning

Horizontal planning is when the different parts of the project are planned simultaneously. This type of planning is also known as agile planning.

Joint planning

This is a mix of both vertical and horizontal planning. Part of the project is planned sequentially, and some parts are planned at the same time. This type of planning is also known as integrated planning.

Example of project planning

Company X plans to launch a new product, and the head of product marketing is assigned to create a project plan.


  • Enhance awareness into an eco-conscious demographic subsection to strengthen customer relationships and brand loyalty.
  • Aim to sell over 15,000 units in Q1.
  • Achieve 80% customer satisfaction rating in user testing.


Project sponsor: Molly - LiquiTech

Project lead: Graham

Development: Ridge

Design: Leah

Marketing: Mindy and Alec

Support: Dylan and Hope

Project plan

Project start: 01st April

Project end: 15th September


$5,000 - Advertising, market research, and product development

$3,000 - HR tasks including customer service, social media, and sales

$12,000 - Material resources for product development, packaging, and shipping

$2,000 - Contingency


  • Update buyer personas
  • Product documentation
  • Legal obligations
  • Usability testing plan
  • Internal company education
  • Sales training
  • New product marketing campaign

Risks analysis 

  • Increasing production costs
  • Technology risks
  • Market risks
  • Performance risks
  • Financial risk

Communication plan

Team to communicate primarily on Company X’s collaboration platform. Weekly reports to be shared via email on Fridays by COB. Individual progress reports to be uploaded on the platform every fortnight.

Kickoff meeting

Launch date

11:11 am, 1st April 2023

Marketing channels

To utilize social media platforms to run giveaways two weeks before and after the product launch, plus online ads to reach members of the intended audience.

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Article FAQs

What are project planning tools and software?
Project planning tools and software helps track and manage project tasks, milestones, and resources. They also streamline communication between the team and stakeholders.
Who is involved in project planning?
Project planning involves the project manager, sponsor, and other key stakeholders. The project manager is responsible for creating the project plan, while the sponsor provides approvals and funding. Stakeholders provide input or feedback.
What is the difference between project planning and creating a strategy?
Project planning is the process of defining a course of action for a specific goal. Strategy is the broader plan that details how the organization will achieve its overall objectives.
How many people can work on project planning?
As many people as necessary work on project planning, depending on the size and scope of the project.
What are the five phases of the project?
The five phases of a typical project are initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, and closure.

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