Planning a Project


A lot of details go into planning projects. From determining the economic impacts to considering resource availability, there are many elements of projects that need attention. 

Set Project Dates and Preliminary Planning

In the initial phases of a project, you may not have yet determined if you should actually do the project. It may not be cost effective, or you may not have the resources. In this stage of planning, you can create a project in Workfront without adding any tasks and set the status to planning. Later you can determine whether you want to undertake the project.

When you plan a project, one of the first things that you need to determine is the timeline - when you need to do it. Is there a set deadline for when the project must be finished, or should you set a starting point and work out from there?

Workfront gives you options to plan a project either way. You can schedule a project from a start date, or you can schedule it from the completion date. You can set this attribute when you initially create the project, and you can change it at any time by editing your project.

Another consideration is work schedule. What holidays are coming up? Who will be taking vacations? What hours of the day will your team or teams work? No matter the project time-frames, Workfront provides the tools needed to implement any scheduling requirements. You can create multiple project schedules and apply a default schedule to the project. Additional custom schedules may be applied to different teams or individuals.

One aspect of your project that you should decide right from the start is what changes and statistics you need to track for your audit trail. Is there a regulation that mandates you keep a record of events and processes? If so, what are you required to track? Workfront lets you record edits, scope changes, status changes, and actions so you can comply with the regulations specific to your industry.

As you get started, just open Workfront and create a project. You should set the schedule mode, the project status, the default schedule, and select the recorded changes for your audit trail.

Establish a Project Scope

Project planning means determining exactly what major objectives you need to accomplish in order to complete the project. Which of these are mandatory? Which are optional? Do you have sufficient time to achieve all of the options or only the core objectives?

You may also consider using milestones or parent (summary) tasks in Workfront. You can use milestones to organize your objectives if the individual tasks in one objective have dependencies on individual tasks in other objectives. If tasks in the objective have dependencies to other tasks within the same objective, you can organize the objectives as parent tasks.

For example, assume you have a project to build an apartment building. One of your objectives includes the plumbing and another is laying the foundation. One of your plumbing tasks is to hook up to the main city water line and this must be done prior to laying the foundation. However most of your other plumbing tasks can't be done until after the foundation is laid. In this case, you should consider using milestones to plan your project objectives because some tasks in one objective are dependent on tasks in other objectives.

However, now assume you are a contractor and your project is to lay the carpet for several apartment buildings. You can do them in any order and they are not dependent on each other. In this case, you can use parent tasks to organize your objectives.

When you organize objectives as milestones, you schedule the tasks within each milestone anywhere in the project and assign dependencies to any other task. However, if you use this approach, the tasks that are part of an objective may not be grouped together in project lists and views.

If you use parent tasks to organize objectives, you can create one task for each major objective, and add sub-tasks when you get to the stage of breaking major objectives into individual tasks. This keeps the tasks that are part of the objective organized within project views.

So, make sure you record your major objectives in Workfront as either milestones or parent tasks.

Set Timelines for Your Objectives

After you determine the major objectives of a project, you should calculate the timeline for each objective. This helps prioritize your objectives and plan your schedule accordingly. If you use parent tasks to organize objectives, you can set the dates for them at this point, and if your objectives have dependencies on other objectives, you can set up those dependencies as parent task attributes as well.

List Tasks for Project Objectives

Once you establish project objectives and a planned timeline, you need to determine the tasks required to complete your objectives. Tasks can be very small or large and take only hours to complete, or weeks, months, even years. Using subtasks helps break up much larger tasks into more manageable portions. Now you can start to put each individual task into Workfront. You should create them as tasks within your milestones, or subtasks within your parent tasks. For now you should just list all tasks and not worry about scheduling them. Workfront will automatically set default schedules for the tasks, but you can change the schedules later.