What is a Planning Cycle?

By Abhimanyu Agashe3 min read · Posted Sep 13, 2022

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A planning cycle is an essential outline for project managers that helps them understand the importance of specific steps when creating new projects or products. It is a 6 to 8-step process that can benefit the efficiency with which you complete a project and positively affect the long-term implications of the project.

Steps in the Cycle

  • Defining Objectives: It is important to determine the desired outcome of the project before even starting it. The goals you define should also be able to support the overarching mission and more long-term objectives for your business as well: you do not want plans going against what your business is trying to achieve. Such objectives are generally made with a reasonable completion time and the use of resources in mind.
  • Developing Forecasts: Projects should be completed regardless of rain or shine, so it is essential to develop specific plan premises. It is important to forecast possible changes in operating conditions in advance, whether they be detrimental or beneficial. Specific changes in laws or regulations might reduce or increase barriers to completion: newer equipment, resources, or workforce being available to complete a project faster (or a swath of staffing quitting to complete a project slower), etc.
  • Evaluation of all possible routes: The third step involves evaluating all courses of action and what is the best for your business. Such evaluation generally keeps a company’s resource and staff availability, financial strength, and urgency to complete particular objectives. It is important to spend a significant amount of time on this step compared to others. Hastily deciding on a route to your objective can cause severe problems in the middle of the project. These incorrect decisions have implications that last far longer than just the failure of this one project. Utilize a decision tree to understand the consequences of each step you take in a possible course of action.
  • Examine all resources needed for the project: Now begin assembling a list of all the resources: human, equipment, and other miscellaneous resources that are integral to completing your project. Having this step completed far before you ever start work on your project is vital. Trying to attain important resources at the last minute will come across as unprofessional behavior and can lead to enormous consequences for your reputation and future projects you take on as a project manager.
  • Review the changes your project needs: Go back and review your project’s requirements and objectives: Are any goals too unrealistic? Are any resources not readily available? Do specific barriers block specific courses of action? Review is highly significant to have an excellent plan for your project.
  • Peer Review! Consult fellow peers who might be assigned to your project in the future about what they feel are appropriate changes to your project. They are knowledgeable in their field and will bring a wealth of experience you might not be able to replicate on your own as someone managing the project but not necessarily responsible for tasks to be done during the project.

At a glance, planning cycles seem relatively unimportant to projects compared to tasks to be done during the project’s duration, but that is a misconception. The value of a good outline for your project assignments is unbeatable. A good project manager is nothing without a good planning cycle.

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Abhimanyu Agashe

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