Effective Project Planning

While creating new projects and initiatives throughout my career as a strategic leader, I have created the following project framework. All of my projects originate in this format, which clearly defines objectives, problems to be solved, and how the project should be carried out.

Take a look at the framework outline below, or view and download the Project Framework in Google Docs here.

🎯 Objective

Distill your project into a single-sentence deliverable. Additional details can be provided through the problems to solve, goals, and directives. What are we doing?

Problems to Solve

  • Why are we doing this? 
  • What challenges are we trying to overcome with this project?
  • Each project should be trying to solve a maximum of 3 main problems. If you’re trying to solve too many problems here, you may want to reconsider the scope of the project.

πŸ₯… Goals

  • Description of primary end goal† preferably with results quantifiable with metrics / measurable outcomes.
  • Description of additional primary end goal.
  • Each project should have 1-3 primary goals. If you have too many primary goals, you should likely rethink the scope of the project.

†Footnotes, as applicable.

🧭 Directives

  • Guideline for how we will accomplish goals. At a high level, what are the primary outcomes or deliverables that fulfill the goals cited above? We will achieve our goals by producing A, B, C. We will achieve our goals by connecting with / creating relationships between X, Y, Z.
  • Guideline for how we will accomplish goals. What actions will we take in order to deliver on the goals?

πŸ“‡ Responsibility Matrix

Define a Responsibility Matrix for your project. I like the RACI model, personally. It clearly establishes accountability across the project for contributors, stakeholders, and observers. For a general overview of the RACI model, see this article. The matrix looks like this:

ResponsibleThe individual(s) who are implementing and executing the project or initiative directly; responsible parties actively contribute to the work.
AccountableThe individual(s) who are accountable for the project’s status / progress / deliverables; accountable parties are on the hook for the project’s oversight and success. They may or may not overlap with Responsible individuals.
ConsultedConsulted individual(s) give direction / input on the project, but are not responsible for execution or implementation, and are not accountable for oversight or management on the project.
InformedInformed individual(s) are aware of the project, are impacted by the project in some way, or are invested in the success of the project from an external standpoint but do not provide direct input.

πŸ“‹ Project Plan

  • Large deliverable / milestone.
    • Step to accomplish above.
      • Tasks to accomplish this step.
    • Step to accomplish above.
      • Tasks to accomplish this step.
  • Large deliverable / milestone.
    • Step to accomplish above.
      • Tasks to accomplish this step.

If this project is tracked more granularly in another project management platform (such as Monday, Asana, Clubhouse, etc.) make sure to provide links here.

πŸ—“ Timeline

What is the intended timeline for this project? Add any timeline details for milestones / deliverables, and include any caveats, and dependencies. You could present this in a variety of ways, e.g., a Gantt chart, and / or links to OKRs or calendars if helpful.

If you would like to use this outline for your own project planning, you can view and make a copy of this Project Framework template in Google Docs.