After defining the scope of the project, it’s time to identify the tasks and activities required to achieve
the specified outcome. Begin with the major divisions – project phases and milestones. Don’t
forget to include planning and administration as a specific phase. Planning and administration involve
resources and cost, but many novice project planners fail to account for them when developing the
plan and budget. The project should also have identifiable milestones – specific events demonstrating
progress or completion of a phase. For example, some milestones in a government investigation might
include initial case assessment, document review, case and document preparation, interviews, court
appearances, discovery, negotiation, and settlement.
Once the major phases are determined, drill down to itemize specific tasks and activities within that
phase, and the sequence in which those tasks must be done. For example, tasks in the document
review phase of a legal case might include defining and developing a protocol for reviewers, training
reviewers, and the reviewers conducting the actual review of the documents.
Defining these phases, milestones, and tasks is the first step in developing the project plan. Key
questions must then be answered with respect to these activities.
• What is the required timing for completion?
• Who will perform these tasks?
• How much will the various components and the entire project cost?
Answering these questions leads to the development of a “project plan” – the master document
that integrates the project scope, milestones, schedule, responsibilities, and estimated cost.
The project plan becomes the primary tool for managing the project. A sample project plan is
attached in the Appendix.
Schedule: Estimated Time
Once activities have been identified and sequenced, it’s time to develop the schedule. A variety of
factors will affect the schedule. To begin developing the schedule, estimate the number and level of
people required for each activity and the amount of time it will take them to complete each task. Use
past experiences, estimates, and a contingency to estimate time. If the project is tied to a fixed due
date such as a trial date, discovery deadline, deal closing date, or other target event, you must also use
the due date as an end-point from which to work back to develop a schedule. Fixed, hard due dates
may also affect project staffing and budget if extra personnel or “rush” costs are required in order to
meet the deadline. The schedule developed from these estimates should include begin and end dates
for each task and also for completion of the project as a whole. The resulting schedule becomes part
of the project plan.