The Project Management Professional (PMP) is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the second domain of the PMP®️ exam: Planning. Planning covers 24% of  the PMP exam, meaning that approximately 42 questions will test your ability to perform the tasks needed to plan a project or a phase of a project.

Planning involves properly defining the scope and objectives of the project and outlining the course of action to follow in order to achieve those objectives. To effectively deliver a project, you need to be able to create and follow a project plan; the project plan is usually a series of specific plans, such as how you’ll manage scope, requirements, schedule, cost, quality, communications, resources, risks, procurement and stakeholders.

The project plan is a living document, which means it can be updated or changed when necessary as the project progresses. Ideally, once the scope, time and cost baseline are determined, the project plan should only be changed through the defined change control process. The level of detail required in the project plan and additional planning documents needed depends on the particular project and its needs.

There are 13 tasks within the planning domain, as defined by the PMI®️ itself. They are:

Task 1: Review and assess detailed project requirements, constraints and assumptions with stakeholders based on the project charter and lessons learned, and by using requirement-gathering techniques in order to establish detailed project deliverables.

Task 2: Develop a scope management plan, based on the approved project scope and using scope management techniques in order to define, maintain and manage the scope of the project.

Task 3: Develop the cost management plan based on the project scope, schedule, resources, approved project charter and other information, using estimating techniques, in order to manage project costs.

Task 4: Develop the project schedule based on the approved project deliverables and milestones, scope and resource management plans in order to manage timely completion of the project.

Task 5: Develop the human resource management plan by defining the roles and responsibilities of the project team members in order to create a project organizational structure and provide guidance regarding how resources will be assigned and managed.

Task 6: Develop the communications management plan, based on the project organizational structure and stakeholder requirements, in order to define and manage the flow of project information.

Task 7: Develop the procurement management plan based on the project scope, budget and schedule, in order to ensure that the required project resources will be available.

Task 8: Develop the quality management plan and define the quality standards for the project and its products, based on the project scope, risks and requirements, in order to prevent the occurrence of defects and control the cost of quality.

Task 9: Develop the change management plan by defining how changes will be addressed and controlled in order to track and manage change.

Task 10: Plan for risk management by developing a risk management plan; identifying, analyzing and prioritizing project risk; creating the risk register; and defining risk response strategies in order to manage uncertainty and opportunity throughout the project life cycle.

Task 11: Present the project management plan to the relevant stakeholders according to applicable policies and procedures in order to obtain approval to proceed with project execution.

Task 12: Conduct kick-off meeting, communicating the start of the project, key milestones and other relevant information in order to inform and engage stakeholders and gain commitment.

Task 13: Develop the stakeholder management plan by analyzing needs, interests, and potential impact in order to effectively manage stakeholders’ expectations and engage them in project decisions.

Planning Tasks

Review and Assess Detailed Project Requirements

To determine how a project will be delivered, you first need to determine what will be delivered. Requirements could be the needs and expectations of stakeholders or capabilities that are formally or legally required in the product/service/result. Collecting requirements in detail and analyzing them is the basis for defining the scope and also impacts cost, schedule and procurement. This work will often result in a requirement document and a requirement traceability matrix that links each requirement to the objectives and deliverables.

Develop a Scope Management Plan

A scope management plan is used to outline how the product scope is defined, validated and controlled. It includes the processes for preparing the scope statement, creating the work breakdown structure, approving and maintaining the scope baseline and getting formal acceptance of the deliverables.

Develop Cost Management Plan

A cost management plan defines how the project costs will be estimated, budgeted and managed throughout the project. It outlines unit of measure, level of precision, level of accuracy, control thresholds, organizational procedure links, reporting formats and so forth. It can also have any additional detail related to cost like strategic funding choices. The plan is the used to estimate the money needed for each activity, which is then aggregated to determine the budget.

Develop Project Schedule

Based on the agreed scope and deliverable, a project schedule needs to be created to ensure project can be completed in time. In order to do this, the project manager needs to define the activities/actions needed to achieve the deliverables, identify the relationships and dependencies between those activities and their duration then balance that against the resources available to create a schedule that can be used to execute the project. The project schedule will outline the linked activities, planned dates, durations, milestones and resources.

Develop Human Resource Management Plan

The project manager is responsible for the project team. The human resource plan outlines how to estimate, acquire, manage and use team resources. It will also outline the roles and responsibilities, organization charts, training strategies, methods for developing the team, methods for ensuring team members are available when needed and a plan to recognize and reward team members appropriately

Develop Communications Management Plan

Communication is the exchange of information. It is important that project information is communicated appropriately based on the needs of the team, stakeholders and the project. The project communication plan outlines the approach and plan for communication activities; these activities can vary widely from project to project. It should outline the stakeholder communications requirements, information to be communicated, including language, format, content, level of detail, reason for distribution, person responsible and more, and methods or technologies used to communicate information, guidance and templates, glossary of common terminology, constraints and so forth.

Develop Procurement Management Plan

Procurement management involves acquiring products, services or results needed from outside the team. This requires some form of agreement between the buyer and seller. The procurement plan outlines the procurement decisions, approach and identifies potential sellers. The plan should include a timetable of procurement activities, any constraints or assumptions, procurement metrics for managing contracts and so on. It should be coordinated with other parts of the project as well.

Develop Quality Management Plan

Quality is the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfils requirements. The quality management plan outlines the quality requirement and standards for the project, how to achieve the quality and how to demonstrate or show that these requirements/standard have been met. It will typically include quality standards for the project, quality objectives, quality roles and responsibilities, project deliverables that need quality review, quality control and quality management activities planned, quality tools and any other quality related procedures.

Develop Change Management Plan

The project plan may need to change for varying reasons during its life cycle. For example, scope may need to be reduced because of a setback in the schedule. Such changes are not just randomly implemented; they must be raised as a change request and go through a change control process, during which they are reviewed and a decision is communicated. The change management plan describes how changes to the project will submitted, evaluated and implemented.

Develop Risk Management Plan

Risk management aims to identify and manage risks that are not addressed by another project management process. Risk can have a negative effect on one of the project objectives or the entire project. The risk management plan should outline the general approach to managing risk, specific approaches and tools that will be used, roles and responsibilities for the risk management team members, funds needed for risk management, when and how often it will be performed, risk categories, stakeholder risk appetite and definition of risk probability and impacts. This plan is then used to identify risks, perform qualitative and quantitative risk analysis  and plan risk responses.

Present Project Management Plan to Stakeholders

When the project management plan is ready, it is presented to the stakeholders by the project manager. This can be done using the strategies outlined in the stakeholder management plan.

Conduct Kick-Off Meeting

Ideally, at the end of planning, before the team starts executing the project, the project manager should arrange a kick-off meeting to communicate the objectives of the project, the role and responsibilities of stakeholders and get the commitment of the team. The exact time kick-off takes place depends on the size of the team and how involved they are in the planning. This helps ensure everyone is on the same page.

Develop Stakeholder Management Plan

A stakeholder is anybody who can be impacted positively or negatively by the project. These people need to be identified and involved in the project according to their needs, expectations, interests and potential impact. The plan outlines actionable strategies for effective and productive stakeholder involvement when making decisions or during project execution.

What to Focus On

It is important to note that the project management exam is based on tasks explained above and outlined in the examination content outline, not the PMBOK. However, you will find all the information you need in the PMBOK. You should focus on the following:

  • The process for developing the project plan and all its components  scope, schedule, cost, quality, resources, communications, risk, procurement and stakeholder management plans
  • Collecting requirements, defining scope and creating a work breakdown structure
  • The processes for developing schedule
  • The processes for estimating cost and determining budget
  • The processes for identifying risks, analyzing them and planning a response.
  • Gaining the knowledge and skills needed

Specific Skills and Knowledge for Planning

  • Change management planning
  • Cost management planning, including project budgeting tools and techniques
  • Communications planning
  • Contract types and selection criteria
  • Estimation tools and techniques
  • Human resource planning
  • Lean and efficiency principles
  • Procurement planning
  • Quality management planning
  • Requirements gathering techniques (e.g., planning sessions, brainstorming and focus groups)
  • Regulatory and environmental impacts assessment planning
  • Risk management planning
  • Scope deconstruction (e.g., WBS, Scope backlog) tools and techniques
  • Scope management planning
  • Stakeholder management planning
  • Time management planning, including scheduling tools and techniques
  • Workflow diagramming techniques

Conclusion

I hope this has given you a better understanding of the Planning domain, its tasks, knowledge and skills. Please consult the related topics in this series to explore all five domains of the PMP exam, as well as articles covering exam details, job prospects, and more. Happy studying!

 

Sources

  1. Project Management Professional (PMP)®️ Handbook, PMI
  2. Project Management Professional (PMP)®️ Examination Content Outline, PMI
  3. PMI, “Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), 6th Edition” (2017)

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