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Software Project Planning

This article explores the various aspects of Software Project Planning and Scheduling. Project planning is an aspect of Project Management, which comprises of various processes. The aim of theses processes is to ensure that various Project tasks are well coordinated and they meet the various project objectives including timely completion of the project. What is Project Planning? Project Planning is an aspect of Project Management that focuses a lot on Project ntegration. The project plan reflects the current status of all project activities and is used to monitor and control the project. The Project Planning tasks ensure that various elements of the Project are coordinated and therefore guide the project execution. Project Planning helps in ! "acilitating communication ! Monitoring#measuring the project progress, and ! Provides overall documentation of assumptions#planning decisions The Project Planning Phases can be broadly classified as follows$ ! %evelopment of the Project Plan ! &xecution of the Project Plan ! 'hange 'ontrol and 'orrective (ctions Project Planning is an ongoing effort throughout the Project )ifecycle. Why is it important? If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Project planning is crucial to the success of the Project. 'areful planning right from the beginning of the project can help to avoid costly mistakes. t provides an assurance that the project execution will accomplish its goals on schedule and within budget. What are the steps in Project Planning? Project Planning spans across the various aspects of the Project. *enerally Project Planning is considered to be a process of estimating, scheduling and assigning the projects resources in order to deliver an end product of suitable +uality. ,owever it is much more as it can assume a very strategic role, which can determine the very success of the project. ( Project Plan is one of the crucial steps in Project Planning in *eneralTypically Project Planning can include the following types of project Planning$ ./ Project Scope %efinition and Scope Planning 0/ Project (ctivity %efinition and (ctivity Se+uencing 1/ Time, &ffort and 2esource &stimation 3/ 2isk "actors dentification 4/ 'ost &stimation and 5udgeting 6/ 7rgani8ational and 2esource Planning 9/ Schedule %evelopment :/ ;uality Planning </ 2isk Management Planning

.=/ Project Plan %evelopment and &xecution ../ Performance 2eporting .0/ Planning 'hange Management .1/ Project 2ollout Planning >e now briefly examine each of the above steps$ 1) Project Scope Definition and Scope Planning: n this step we document the project work that would help us achieve the project goal. >e document the assumptions, constraints, user expectations, 5usiness 2e+uirements, Technical re+uirements, project deliverables, project objectives and everything that defines the final product re+uirements. This is the foundation for a successful project completion. 2) Quality Planning: The relevant +uality standards are determined for the project. This is an important aspect of Project Planning. 5ased on the inputs captured in the previous steps such as the Project Scope, 2e+uirements, deliverables, etc. various factors influencing the +uality of the final product are determined. The processes re+uired to deliver the Product as promised and as per the standards are defined. ) Project !cti"ity Definition and !cti"ity Se#uencing: n this step we define all the specific activities that must be performed to deliver the product by producing the various product deliverables. The Project (ctivity se+uencing identifies the interdependence of all the activities defined. $) %ime& 'ffort and (esource 'stimation: 7nce the Scope, (ctivities and (ctivity interdependence is clearly defined and documented, the next crucial step is to determine the effort re+uired to complete each of the activities. See the article on ?Software 'ost &stimation@ for more details. The &ffort can be calculated using one of the many techni+ues available such as "unction Points, )ines of 'ode, 'omplexity of 'ode, 5enchmarks, etc. This step clearly estimates and documents the time, effort and resource re+uired for each activity. )) (is* +actors ,dentification: Expecting the unexpected and facing it t is important to identify and document the risk factors associated with the project based on the assumptions, constraints, user expectations, specific circumstances, etc. -) Schedule De"elopment: The time schedule for the project can be arrived at based on the activities, interdependence and effort re+uired for each of them. The schedule may influence the cost estimates, the cost benefit analysis and so on. Project Scheduling is one of the most important task of Project Planning and also the most difficult tasks. n very large projects it is possible that several teams work on developing the project. They may work on it in parallel. ,owever their work may be interdependent. (gain various factors may impact in successfully scheduling a project ...........o Teams not directly under our control ...........o 2esources with not enough experience Popular Tools can be used for creating and reporting the schedules such as *antt 'harts

.) /ost 'stimation and 0udgeting: 5ased on the information collected in all the previous steps it is possible to estimate the cost involved in executing and implementing the project. See the article on ASoftware 'ost &stimationA for more details. ( 'ost 5enefit (nalysis can be arrived at for the project. 5ased on the 'ost &stimates 5udget allocation is done for the project. 1) 2rgani3ational and (esource Planning 5ased on the activities identified, schedule and budget allocation resource types and resources are identified. 7ne of the primary goals of 2esource planning is to ensure that the project is run efficiently. This can only be achieved by keeping all the project resources fully utili8ed as possible. The success depends on the accuracy in predicting the resource demands that will be placed on the project. 2esource planning is an iterative process and necessary to optimi8e the use of resources throughout the project life cycle thus making the project execution more efficient. There are various types of resources B &+uipment, Personnel, "acilities, Money, etc. 4) (is* 5anagement Planning: 2isk Management is a process of identifying, analy8ing and responding to a risk. 5ased on the 2isk factors dentified a 2isk resolution Plan is created. The plan analyses each of the risk factors and their impact on the project. The possible responses for each of them can be planned. Throughout the lifetime of the project these risk factors are monitored and acted upon as necessary. 16) Project Plan De"elopment and '7ecution: Project Plan %evelopment uses the inputs gathered from all the other planning processes such as Scope definition, (ctivity identification, (ctivity se+uencing, ;uality Management Planning, etc. ( detailed >ork 5reak down structure comprising of all the activities identified is used. The tasks are scheduled based on the inputs captured in the steps previously described. The Project Plan documents all the assumptions, activities, schedule, timelines and drives the project. &ach of the Project tasks and activities are periodically monitored. The team and the stakeholders are informed

of the progress. This serves as an excellent communication mechanism. (ny delays are analy8ed and the project plan may be adjusted accordingly 11) Performance (eporting: (s described above the progress of each of the tasks#activities described in the Project plan is monitored. The progress is compared with the schedule and timelines documented in the Project Plan. Carious techni+ues are used to measure and report the project performance such as &CM D&arned Calue Management/ ( wide variety of tools can be used to report the performance of the project such as P&2T 'harts, *(ETT charts, )ogical 5ar 'harts, ,istograms, Pie 'harts, etc. 12) Planning /hange 5anagement: (nalysis of project performance can necessitate that certain aspects of the project be changed. The 2e+uests for 'hanges need to be analy8ed carefully and its impact on the project should be studied. 'onsidering all these aspects the Project Plan may be modified to accommodate this re+uest for 'hange. 'hange Management is also necessary to accommodate the implementation of the project currently under development in the production environment. >hen the new product is implemented in the production environment it should not negatively impact the environment or the performance of other applications sharing the same hosting environment. 1 ) Project (ollout Planning: n &nterprise environments, the success of the Project depends a great deal on the success of its rollout and implementations. >henever a Project is rolled out it may affect the technical systems, business systems and sometimes even the way business is run. "or an application to be successfully implemented not only the technical environment should be ready but the users should accept it and use it effectively. "or this to happen the users may need to be trained on the new system. (ll this re+uires planning.