UMass Boston

Project Planning Phase

Project Planning Phase


  • Delivers a project plan
  • Defines the detailed project schedule, budget, and resource assignments
  • Provides the baseline to execute and manage the project
  • Approves the project to begin work
  • Concludes with the project kickoff meeting


The Planning Phase is critical to a project’s success. A well thought-out project plan will provide the project team with a clear direction and understanding of their contributions to the success of the project.  A detailed project plan is simply a list of the tasks and activities that must be accomplished in order to reach a milestone or produce a deliverable.  Where the Project Charter is created at the macro level, the detailed project plans are at the micro level and function as the work plan for each team member.

In the Planning Phase, the Project Manager works with the project team to create the technical design, task list, resource plan, communications plan, budget, and initial schedule for the project, and establishes the roles and responsibilities of the project team and its stakeholders.  Project planning is an iterative process which may occur consistently throughout the project.  The level of planning detail required for work more than 2 – 3 months in the future may not need the same precision as work required in the next two months.  However, these plans should be reviewed and revised every month until completion of the project.  The frequency for doing iterative planning will also depend on the size, complexity and risk level of the project.

Planning Processes Activities

  • Gather functional requirements, to define scope of work as needed
  • Perform a risk assessment, analysis and include mitigation options as appropriate (optional)
  • Determine resources and staffing needs
  • Assess the communication needs and, if required, prepare a communication plan
  • Analyze testing needs and plan accordingly
  • Assess training needs and develop a strategy or plan as appropriate
  • Prepare a detailed scope document that includes how to verify completion of deliverables (optional)
  • Create a project plan that establishes the work breakdown structure and a schedule
  • Obtain consensus of the project team and project stakeholders on project plan
  • Enter the Project Plan into ServiceNow
  • Conduct the Project Kickoff Meeting

Deliverables of the Project Planning Phase:

Project Plan

The Project Plan is a task list created within ServiceNow.  The Project Plan contains:

  • A Detailed Task list.  Each task should contain
    • Start/end dates
    • Estimated effort
    • Estimated duration
  • Milestones
  • Resources – who will do the work
  • Schedule – the dates the work will be done
  • Dependencies – which tasks depend on the start or completion of another task

Communications Plan (optional)

A communication plan facilitates effective and efficient communications with the various audiences having a major stake in the project. It describes how project communications will occur.  The Communications Plan should be created using the template in Appendix B.     

A communication plan includes the following elements:

  • Communication objectives
  • Target audiences
  • Key content for the communications
  • Communication method and frequency

Resource Allocation Plan (optional)

A resource allocation plan is scheduling of the project team while taking into consideration both the resource availability and the project time.  Resource allocation is important because it gives project managers and project team members a clear picture on the amount of work that has to be done. It also helps to have an insight into the team’s progress, including allocating the right amount of time to everyone on the team. But above all, resource allocation in project management helps to control all the workload. Resource plans should include a projected estimate of the amount of time each resource is planned to contribute to the project on a monthly basis.  Resource plans are reviewed on a monthly basis.  We anticipate that these estimates have less precision the further out they are in the project timeline.

Service Transition Plan (optional)

A service transition plan helps manage the change of state of a service in its lifecycle. Managing new, changed and retired services that may be created or altered as part of a project protects the product environment. Curating service knowledge helps all stakeholders make informed, reliable decisions and support challenges with service delivery.  Both managing service risk and curating service knowledge are integral to service transition.

Project Kick-Off Meeting

The Project Kickoff Meeting formally recognizes the start of the project. The Project Manager uses this meeting to communicate a shared view of the project to ensure understanding of the approved Project Charter and plan.  The Project Kickoff Meeting provides an opportunity for the following:

  • Introduce Project Sponsor, Project Owner and Project Manager
  • Introduce Team Members and Stakeholders
  • Review Project Scope, Definition and Objectives
  • Review High-level Timeline & Milestones, Roles, and Budget
  • Review Deliverables
  • Review Challenges
  • Explain Next Steps

The Project Kickoff Meeting ensures that all stakeholders are familiar with and share a common understanding of the approved Project Charter and that they are aware of the next steps to complete the project work plan. The more complete the resulting plans, the more likely project implementation will progress efficiently and effectively.  The following persons/roles must be involved in the Project Kick-Off Meeting:

  • Project Manager
  • Project Team/Stakeholders
  • Project Sponsor/Project Owner

Phase Gate:Project Plan Review & Approval

A project plan is finalized when it is formally accepted and approved by the Director of the Project Management Office. Formal approval acknowledges that all the deliverables produced during the Planning Phase are complete, reviewed, and accepted.  The Project Manager should review the project plan with the PMO Director to indicate final approval of the plan.  This approval marks the plan as the go-forward agreement and can be viewed as a project management milestone.

  • Obtain approval to move forward with executing the project plan
  • Conduct the Project Kick-off Meeting
  • After the Kickoff meeting, the Project phase should be changed to Executing
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