The 3 Management Planning Steps for All Projects

What are the most important management planning steps? Where should you start when deciding on your management strategy?

There are management planning steps you can and should follow when you are deciding on your strategy. You can also use these steps when working on a specific project.

Read more about the three management planning steps below.

Management Planning Steps

There are four management planning steps. Before you dive into your strategy or project, you should follow these steps to make sure you’re maximizing output.

Step #1: Determine Demand and Conduct Difference Analysis

In management, demand comes from your environment, which is the other groups in your organization that closely interact with you. 

To determine your demand, consider: 

  • What other people in the company currently expect from you. For example, manufacturing process engineer Cindy is in charge of the method for making microchips. Her environment consists of new methods and tools and people who work with her, such as development, production, and product engineers. All of these people want something different from Cindy—less required experimentation, more documentation, or finished microchips, respectively.
  • Technological developments. (Shortform example: After the invention of email, people no longer needed physical memos.)
  • The performance of the groups that support you. (Shortform example: If you depend on the communications department to announce your projects, do they have enough resources to meet your needs?)

Then, consider the expected state of all these factors in the future to determine the difference between what people expect of you now and what they might expect in the future. This is called a difference analysis.

Don’t try to resolve anything yet—that will come in the next steps.

Step #2: Evaluate Your Current Status

There are two things to consider when evaluating your current status:

  1. What you’re capable of doing now
  2. The projects you’re currently working on. Consider timing and whether all of the projects will actually be completed (usually, some projects get canceled).

Use the same vocabulary to describe status and demand. For example, if your demand is for “completed product designs,” refer to anything in-progress is a “partly completed product design.” That way, you can more easily compare your status and demand.

Step #3: Reconcile

In this step, you’ll change what you’re currently doing so that you can meet future environmental demand. To do this, ask yourself two questions separately:

  • What needs to be done?
  • What is possible to do?

Decide on your strategy (a general summary of what you plan to do) and tactics (what you’ll actually do to make your strategy come true), keeping in mind how your actions will reconcile and how long this reconciliation will take. 

Make sure to involve the people who will be responsible for implementing the plan. For example, Cindy made a list and a schedule of what steps the development engineers needed to do to produce enough documentation for her needs. She spoke with the development group’s manager to negotiate what was possible.

The 3 Management Planning Steps for All Projects

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