Product Planning Checklist - dummies

By Nick Graham

Part of Project Management Checklists For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The product-led approach to planning, set out in this checklist, is hugely powerful as well as being very logical. One of the advantages of the approach is in flushing out hidden bits of the project to give you a more complete view of what’s involved. Good product plans lead to complete activity plans, realistic resource plans, and more accurate costings; all of these are really helpful for project control.

As you check your products, think about these areas.

  • Risk: Check that you have included risk-related products, such as assessments of technology developments in competitor companies.

  • Inter-project dependencies: These occur where you can’t start to build a product in your project until you have received something from someone else’s project, such as a copy of a design specification.

  • Communications: Internal project communications don’t need to be put on the plan, but there may be other important communications products that do, such as briefings for business staff, a website and publicity materials.

  • Training: A lot of project planners forget user training. Check that you have included relevant products such as training materials, room bookings and staff attendance schedules.

  • Orders: These are important where you have external products coming in from outside the project, many will need an ‘order’ product; they won’t arrive by magic.

  • Installation: Where you have an external product, such as a Pink Widget bought from a supplier, check if you need an ‘Installed Pink Widget’ product which may be something that your project will create.

  • Legal issues: This covers items such as licenses. If you need them then include them on the product diagrams but also your applications for the licenses because they’re products too.

  • Inspections and approvals: This includes such requirements as building inspections and electrical safety certification. The approval certificates are products, but so too are applications to ask for them.

  • Logic: Check the flow of products on your Work Flow Diagram. Ensure that the dependencies are complete, necessary and logical.

  • Completeness: Check that all of the products identified on any list or Work Breakdown Structure have been carried forward to the Work Flow Diagram, then that you have done the ‘bottom-up checks’ to ensure that nothing has been left out.

  • Management products: Although your main product diagrams will only show team products, list the products you need to manage the project separately, such as progress reports and Stage Plans. Don’t overlook them; they’ll need time and resource to produce.