Project Planning

So much more than an eye on the schedule

On time. On budget. Every Time.

Project planning is a vital software project manager skill. The planning phase sets the whole project in motion and requires careful strategy to get right. If the planning isn’t executed correctly, the entire project can be brought down to its knees. In other words, it could get messy — delayed releases, blown budgets, buggy software, and missing features are just some of the issues that a project manager must try to prevent. Proper project planning takes all aspects of the software development process into consideration and uses the best methods and tools to ensure the project’s success.

The Balancing Act

Thorough software project planning covers many pertinent areas. The project requirements must be fully understood and outlined. Then, the steps necessary to meet those requirements must be adequately communicated to the developers. This may sound like a piece of cake, but it’s actually the hardest part of a PMs job. It’s also where most problems arise in software development. Once the specifications are known, the PMs allocate resources to the different areas of the project.

It’s a balancing act — keeping the budget and the time constraints of the project in mind. These project aspects must be considered at every step. This means from initialization all the way to the final release and beyond, if future updates or enhancements are made.

We’re Into “Iterative”

Over the years so many software development methodologies have emerged. Of course, which one to follow is entirely subjective. At CURTIS Digital, we like to use the iterative method. This was created as an improvement over the traditional waterfall method and consists of cycles of development. Each iteration, which often has a set timeframe (commonly coined a “sprint”) involves a subset of the project going through its own mini-development process, starting with planning and then proceeding to implementation, testing, and evaluation. This process is repeated, using the data gained from earlier iterations to inform the subsequent ones, until the final software is ready for release. Iterations allow for changes in the overall software requirements to be introduced and are then implemented throughout the development process.

The Vision Keeper

Project planning is all about having the software completed and delivered by the intended release date. This is the ultimate goal. A good plan will keep the team on track while allowing for possible alterations in the design specifications. The proper tools help considerably with the planning aspect. Yet, in the end, the ability to see the big picture and use the chosen method to plan out what needs to be done is what will make every project a roaring success.

The PM Tools

The right tools make the planning process considerably easier. Of course, what defines the right tools can depend on several factors. Ultimately, our PMs choose which tools work best. Charts, however, are invaluable in project planning. A visual representation of the project’s timeline will let the PM and the development team see what they will be working on at any point in time and what each project phase milestone is.