Ingredients of an effective Project Plan
More often than not, despite the importance of this phase or aspect of a project, it tends to be taken lightly – the phase being the planning process while writing a research proposal. In this post, I shall attempt to tell you what exactly goes on or should happen when it comes to planning post acceptance of a proposal.
Once the topic has been accepted by the donor agency, we need to begin the process of refining the topic and turning it into something that is focused enough to guide your study/project. It is important that you establish a research problem at the start of your project. It is one of the key tools you have to ensure that your project keeps going in the right direction.
Every task you undertake should begin with you revisiting your research problem - “Will this help me address this problem?” or “Will this help me to address the research questions?”
This particular thought gives support to the idea that one must conduct a feasibility study with the target audience so that we have an idea what we are up against. This not only helps us understand the extent to which we can study the research questions but can refine or sort out issues stemming from logistics as far as conducting the study is concerned. This way, one chalks out a roadmap for the project from the beginning to the end, along with knowledge of alerts to be placed at necessary intervals.
The main advantage of this exercise is that you should be willing to revise your research problem as you find out more about your topic. You may, for example, discover that the data you were hoping to analyse is not available, or you may encounter a new piece of information or a new concept while undertaking a literature search, that makes you rethink on your research questions.
Another advantage of the feasibility study is that one can always update the funding organization and clearly express the problems so that you can make any substantial revision to your plans, and explain why you think certain changes are necessary. Early identification of these problems will give you the best chance of minimising any negative effects. Once we are able to anticipate such issues or problems ahead of us, it will help us substantially to recheck our goals and objectives and thus continuously review the project. This is where planning is vital.
Realistic planning can improve the prospect of completing the project on time. An ideal plan would consist the following:
- · Devote time to not just devising a project plan but revising it as well;
- · Try to chalk out a timeline for the project with an approximate measure of time taken for each task
- · Allocate appropriate time for travelling required for your research;
- · Have clear and achievable objectives for each week;
- · Focus on one thing at a time;
- · If you fall behind, make sure you spend time reworking your plan.
Once you have created your plan, it is a good idea to share it with your immediate peers for feedback. An overall perspective is always a good thing for any project. Ultimately this is your project and by the end of the day if it is going well then you will be rewarded and the end result of the project is also your responsibility. The onus is on you, the well-being of any researcher depends on the well-being of the project as well!