Whatever type of planning you are are undertaking there are some common steps.
Define the issue or opportunity
It’s important that your organisation has a structure in place and process to weigh up issues and opportunities. This will help you to be well positioned to respond to issues and opportunities when they do come. Pay particular consideration to those that fit with or impact upon your objectives.
Establish the response
Everyone involved should clearly understand what the aim is, what it will achieve, what needs to be done and who needs to be involved. Consider how competing priorities will affect the resources and attention available.
Step by step
Determine the scope of the project by breaking it down into achievable stages to make it easy to follow. Include the order in which things should happen and when every stage is expected to be completed.
The team (and other resources)
Identify what resources will be required to achieve the goal. Establish how different activities are inter-related, which team members are responsible for what, and how to best work together.
Track and measure
Develop agreed tools for monitoring your progress and define the reporting mechanisms that will help to monitor and communicate your progress. Determine key performance indicators and decision points at various milestones or intervals.
Find out who your stakeholders are and obtain their agreement. Establish ways to keep everyone who needs to know informed along the way. Document your communications.
Get the buy in
Involve and listen to everyone who is relevant to the project and get their buy in. Find ways to make sure the right mix of people stay involved and continue to have ownership.
Look ahead for pitfalls
Identify the risks associated with each activity so you can deal with them. Think about the impact of any unforeseen circumstances both internal and external e.g. staff turnover, skills shortages and price rises.
Identify critical elements
Identify aspects of a project that will have the biggest impact on what you aim to achieve, where bottlenecks might appear, what’s negotiable and what is absolutely essential.
Position your organisation to be flexible enough to respond well to change and the opportunities that may present, as it happens.