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Planning Phase – Introduction (#1 in the series Planning Phase)
By Michele Berrie, Queensland University of Technology

Definition: defining and refining objectives.

This phase requires completion of a Project Plan. A Work Breakdown Structure and sub-plans are part of the Project Plan. The sub-plans may be incorporated into the main Project Plan or may be separate, depending on the scope and value of the project:

  • Work Breakdown Structure diagram or Gantt chart
  • Risk Management Plan
  • Quality Plan
  • Communication Plan

The Project Plan is a dynamic document that supplies an integrated suite of information to coordinate, run and control the project. The level of detail depends on the size of the project and impacts outside the local area. The project manager should always bear in mind that an overly long plan may contain so much detail that the documentation will never be read.

The project manager will practise a wide range of skills, including technical, communications, human resource and political to prepare the plan. Best practice stipulates that the project manger should interact with key stakeholders to set up the plan, thereby ensuring that the plan is well thought out, understood and capable of being executed. A high degree of involvement of the project team is desirable.

Finally, it should be communicated to all stakeholders that projects are dynamic and will change as they run their course. The project manager should produce the best Project Plan possible, but the stakeholders should be aware that changes will take place and plans will be modified accordingly. Appropriate stakeholders should be kept informed of any changes to the plans.

The Project Plan and its associated documents should be approved by the steering committee, then considered by the governing authority for final approval.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is a highly successful Australian university with an applied emphasis in courses and research. Based in the city of Brisbane with a global outlook, it has 40,000 students, including 6000 from overseas, (QUT Statistics) and an annual budget of more than AU$500 million. Courses are in high demand and its graduate employment rate is well above the national average for Australian universities.

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