Project planning

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Project planning is one of the main tasks of project management . In general, the project is planning the second of four major project phases of a project that follows in time so the project definition and prepares the actual project implementation prior to as well as possible; However, project management is always crisis management as well , so project planning always accompanies project implementation and has to react to plan deviations that can no longer be compensated for with appropriate rescheduling and new planning.

Planning approaches

Project planning begins with project structure planning . Based on the requirements catalog or specification sheet , the development project is structured in terms of technology, tasks and business. The resulting structures ( product structure , project structure and account structure) are the cornerstones of goal-oriented development; all further planning steps are based on them.

The task packages are derived from the work breakdown structure, for which an effort estimate must then be carried out. In addition to the own potential of experience, the experience of external experts and the possibilities of cost estimation procedures should be used. Effort estimation procedures and expert surveys do not mean mutually exclusive, but mutually beneficial approaches.

With the results of the effort estimate, a schedule is now created for the individual work packages or subtasks , in which the work packages are set up in their order to be worked out. After this list, an appointment is planned . For larger projects, a network plan should be used if possible , either computer-assisted or manually.

At the same time, it is important to define project staff who must have the appropriate knowledge in order to be able to successfully carry out the individual project sub-tasks. Particular care is also taken in the selection of the project manager. In addition, it is essential to have emergency strategies ready if project staff should be absent at short notice in order to find replacements quickly.

The resource planning should ensure an optimal use of the existing staff and the available operating and material resources. Bottlenecks and idle times, for example in test facilities and test systems, can thus be avoided. The comparison of resources with regard to other, neighboring projects must also be included in these considerations in the form of multi-project planning. Full utilization of the planned resources inevitably leads to a reduction in development costs and a shortening of development times.

"Holistic" cost planning is a prerequisite for any economic development. Without it, correct pricing is not possible. The requirement for a continuous process-oriented project calculation is in the foreground, ie at the beginning of the project a detailed preliminary calculation should be made for all development tasks according to a uniform calculation scheme and later continued with the calculation according to the same scheme. A corresponding post-calculation must then conclude this project-accompanying calculation at the end of the project.

In the meantime, every company is required by law to implement risk management . With a forward-looking risk analysis and the derivation of appropriate precautionary measures, a timely risk prevention or reduction should be achieved.

All results of the project planning flow into the corresponding project plans . This includes the plans for the organization, structuring and implementation of the project as well as the project plans for the dates, the planned efforts and costs. To structure projects, phase models with defined milestones are often used in planning .

Framework conditions for project planning

As a rule, there are a number of framework conditions for planning and planning premises that already exist when planning has not yet started.

Ideally, such assumptions are defined in the project order.

Often, however, fundamental assumptions are completely undocumented and are implicitly assumed. Communication only takes place in the event of a problem, when it is already too late.

The design, scope and procedure for planning depend, among other things, on the time of planning. The same applies to the planning horizon and the planning depth. The very first rough planning, for example at the phase level, may be satisfied with an initial time estimate. At a later point in progress, however, a higher level of detail is required.

Different plan variants can arise both due to factual requirements but also, for example, due to the orientation towards a special target group (decision-making body, project staff, customers, ...). As practical as specific plan variants may be, they are also associated with a considerable need for maintenance in order to keep the different plan variants consistent.

Plan tracking and plan adjustment

Adjustments will usually be necessary in the course of the project. To this end, a consensus must be achieved between all those involved, which includes the progress made in knowledge as well as maintaining the original objective and, if necessary, updating it. The need for adaptation results, for example, from:

  • there are new actual requirements
  • new approaches to the technical implementation become known
  • changed configuration of the project results is required
  • Outdated frameworks, boundary conditions, premises and initial conditions are recognized
  • Resources originally planned (employees, machines, material, infrastructure, etc.) are not available as planned or have to be replaced
  • Changes to core data (time, quality, costs) occur

All such causes require additional measures to be incorporated into the plan after the necessary consensus is reached. Such changes must be traced in the planning in order to be able to continue the design processes and to be able to use the necessary evaluations and reports for those involved. The formal documentation and approval of such adjustments takes place within the framework of the change system .

Even if small adjustments are often made tacitly on the side in practice, the consistent use of a formal change process that documents the underlying consensus is recommended. Adjustments to plans are usually associated with costs, longer project times or other consequences for which the project management is responsible. A change system thus serves, on the one hand, to ensure the success of the project and, on the other hand, to formally fulfill the contract. With updated planning, the project management contributes to the valid goal orientation in the project.

Supporting software

Since many projects are very complex, project management software is used, especially in professional planning , to help the responsible project manager and all those involved in planning to keep track of the project phases , the deadlines to be met and the resources required. The range of helpful software is very large. Choosing the right tool is difficult, but ultimately strongly determines the project.


  • Burghardt, Manfred: Project Management, 6th Edition, Munich, Publicis Corporate Publishing, 2002, ISBN 3-89578-199-1 .
  • Slaghuis, Bernd: Contract management for investment projects, quantitative project planning to support contract management, taking into account information asymmetry. 2005, ISBN 3-631-54210-0 .
  • Zimmermann, Jürgen; Stark, Christoph; Rieck, Julia: Project planning - models, methods, management, Springer, 2006, ISBN 3-540-28413-3 .

Individual evidence

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