Sunday, July 1, 2007

Project Planning Phase Outputs and Milestones

Did you know that the planning phase of an IT project can make or break that project? If not conducted properly, the planning phase can cause a domino effect on the other life cycle phases and eventually cause the project to fail. This is why successful project managers spend so much time on this phase.

The majority of the project manager's work during the planning phase involves the completion of three key activities—project initiation and organization, project definition and planning, and management review and approval. However, the project manager's job does not end there. The key activities are then used to obtain the outputs, and the outputs are used to meet the milestone, thus completing this cycle of the project.

Once the members of the project team have concluded all of the key activities of the planning phase, they will have the outputs listed below. These outputs will become the inputs to the analysis phase of the project life cycle.
  • The business case. A business case is a request for project investment. It is a high-level description of the project's information systems and related business objectives.
  • The conceptual design. The conceptual design can be a rough drawing, a flowchart, or storyboards that show the general shape and location of all design elements for the proposed application.
  • The project plan. The project plan is used to guide project execution and control. It includes an overview of the project, a description of how the project is organized, details about the management and technical processes to be used, and a description of the work to be done, as well as a schedule and budget information.
The business case, conceptual design, and project plan are submitted to management for review. Once management approval is given for the project, a project plan sign-off is required. This sign-off indicates that management has given its approval for the project to proceed.
The project plan sign-off is the milestone that must be met during the planning phase. It indicates that the planning phase of the IT project life cycle has been completed. The project can now move on to the analysis phase.

Remember, in order to move onto the analysis phase and proceed with your project, you must first develop the outputs of the planning phase and obtain the sign-off form from management, which is the milestone for this phase of the project.

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