Operational Planning - Task planning

Task planning is essentially breaking down your goals into tasks. It means figuring out every activity that needs to take place in order to achieve your goal, and getting them into a manageable plan that you can use to manage tasks and track progress on a day-to-day basis.

Task planning is also an essential first step in understanding the resources required to achieve your goal. Based on your task plan you can identify how many people you will need and of what level of expertise, and the equipment and materials you will need to get the job done.

Work breakdown structure

If you're dealing with a more complicated goal that has a lot of moving pieces, a good tool to use is a work breakdown structure (WBS). A WBS breaks a goal down into different levels of tasks and sub tasks. It is a very common tool in project management.

Work breakdown structure

Task plan

A task plan is essentially a structured task list that sets out what tasks need to be completed, in what order, by when and by who. It gives you a clear picture of exactly what needs to be done and enables you to manage tasks and track progress on a day-to-day basis.

Task plan
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  1. Define the tasks - define each of the tasks/activities that need to be completed.
  2. Order the tasks based on dependencies - determine the relationships between the tasks and order them accordingly (e.g. Task A must be finished before Task B can start). Tasks that have no predecessors can be completed at any time providing resources are available.
  3. Define the duration - estimate how long each task is going to take to complete. If you are not sure about a task, ask the person who is responsible for it on a daily basis - they should have a good idea of how long they take to do their job. Add 20% extra time as a contingency.
  4. Due date - set a due date (deadline) for when each piece of work needs to be done by.
  5. Assign responsibility - determine who/which role is responsible for the delivery of each task. They don't necessarily need to be the one completing the work, but they are ultimately responsible for ensuring the completion of that piece of work.

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Next: Operational Planning - Resource planning & budgeting