Project Planning is foreseeing with blue print towards some predicted goals or ends. Project plan is a skeleton which consists of bundle of activities with its future prospects; it is a guided activity. It is a plan for which resources are allocated and efforts are being made to commence the project with great amount of pre-planning, project is a way of defining what we are hoping to do about certain issue. The project alone is not responsible for what happens during the course of a planning. Project is a final form of written documents that guides us as to what steps need to be taken next.
Nature of Project Planning
One cannot conceive a project in a linear manner. It involves few activities, resources, constrains and interrelationships which can be visualized easily by the human mind and planned informally. However, when a project crosses a certain threshold level of size and complexities, informal planning has to be substituted by formal planning. Besides that it is an open system oriented planned change attempt which has certain parameters and dimension. So that, the need for formal planning is indeed much greater for project work than for normal operations. The pre-defined and outlined in detail plan of action helps than managers to perform their task more effectively and efficiently.
There are always competing demands on the resources available in a region or a country because of the limited availability and ever expanding human needs. Planning for the optimum utilization of available resources becomes a pre-requisite for rapid economic development of a country or a region. Project planning makes a possible to list out the priorities and promising projects with a view to exercising national choice among various alternatives available. It is a tool by which a planner can identify a good project and to make sound investment decisions.
Need For Project Planning
One of the objectives of project planning is to completely define all work requested so that it will be readily identifiable to each project participant. Besides that there are four basic reasons for project planning.
- To eliminate or reduce uncertainty.
- To improve efficiency of the operation.
- To obtain a better understanding of the objectives.
- To provide a basis for monitoring and controlling work.
Functions of Project Planning
The following functions are to be performed carefully in the project planning process.
- It should provide a basis for organizing the work on the project and allocating responsibilities to individuals.
- It is a means of communication and co-ordination between all those involved in the project.
- It induces the people to look ahead.
- It instills a sense of urgency and time consciousness.
- It establishes the basis for monitoring and control.
In planning a project, the project manager must structure the work into small elements that are: Manageable, independent, integratable and also measurable in terms of progress. Planning must be systematic and flexible enough to handle unique activities, disciplined through reviews and controls and capable of accepting multi-functional inputs.
Steps in Project Planning
Planning decisions involves a conscious choice or selection of one behavior alternative from among a group o two or more behavior alternatives. The three main steps involving project planning decisions are:
- An individual becomes aware that there are alternative ways of action which are relevant to the decision to be made.
- He must define each of the alternatives. Hence, the definition involving a determination of consequences or impact of each of the pro-posed alternatives.
- The individual must exercise a choice between the alternative i.e. he has to make a decision with maximum input, feed back and participation of superiors as well as subordinates.
Planning is a systematic attempt to achieve a set of goals within the specified time limit under the constrains of available resources restrictions involving the least sacrifice. Broadly speaking planning involves two different methodologies.
- Planning by incentive: Mainly depends on the controlling of economic tools to push economic resources towards the attainment of set goals within the specified period.
- Planning by direction: Gives more emphasis on the direct participation of the central planning authority in the economic activities to attain the set goal within the estimated time limit.
Planning is decision making based upon futurity. It is a continuous process of making entrepreneurial decisions with an eye to the future, and methodically organizing the effort needed to carry out these decisions.
Areas of Project Planning
Comprehensive project planning covers the following:
- Planning the project work: The activities relating to the project must be spelt out in detail. They should be properly scheduled and sequenced.
- Planning the manpower and organizations: The manpower required for the project must be estimated and the responsibility for carrying out the project work must be allocated.
- Planning the money: The expenditure of money in a time-phased manner must be budgeted.
- Planning the information system: The information required for monitoring the project must be defined.
Project Planning and Decentralization
The different way of allocating the activities of a project are important means of delineating various degrees of decentralization. There are three main ways in which project planning can be decentralized into manageable divisions viz.,
- Project planning by subject
- Project Planning by type of plan and
- Planning in phases.
Planning by subject is a simplest way of dividing the powers of planning. The planner takes decision on related operation and planning by subject. He plans, decides and directs the part of a plan. He is the sale in-charge of the plan from beginning to final completion.
Planning by type of plan broadly define premises and assumptions leaving the detailing to be done by persons at the grass root level of planning. Generally such cases involve decisions which are rather routine and involve a lower degree of professional and financial risk.
Planning in phases are designed to several individuals who participate at the formulation stage. The level of people involved is directly related to the phase and the degree of risk involved.