Project management is one of the most important skills and processes to learn when going into business. Projects act as the lifeblood of every business as they’re what moves the business forward and helps it grow, gain customers, and make money. 

When drawing up projects, though, you need to have a starting point. A vague idea and a budget aren’t going to cut it — you have to know the ins and outs, the timelines, the objectives, the results, and the financing for a project to not just get off the ground but be successful. 

This is where project design comes in.

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An Overview of Project Design

This overview will give you the inside scoop on everything you need to know about this necessary process when developing and managing your projects.

What Is Project Design?

It is necessary in project management, an early process that makes your project come to life. It’s known as a starting phase for the project, because without it, you really don’t have the tools or the blueprint to get the project going. 

In this phase, you plan all of a project’s key features, its elements for success, major deliverables, structure, and more. Usually in this phase, you’ll come up with one or more designs that will showcase and later be used to achieve your projected goals. Thanks to project design, stakeholders are then able to choose the best design for the fulfillment of the project, making the whole process smoother and easier for the entire team. 

During this phase of project management, it’s common to generate and play with a number of ideas such as:

  • Site trees
  • HTML screen designs
  • Sketches and doodles
  • Images
  • Photo impressions
  • Flowcharts
  • Prototypes
  • And much more

Why Is Project Design Important?

It is important in project management because it takes care of all the little details that really matter to the project as a whole. 

This phase of the project will establish who is responsible for identifying, describing, completing the project. During this stage, design thinking is an important practice for effective project management down the line. Design thinking is a useful method of problem solving that can be broken down into three consecutive stages: collaboration, innovation, and acceleration. 

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Like with any project, having an outline of how you want it to go is important for smoother execution and a higher likelihood of success. With this in mind, it’s helpful to think of PD as the outline or brainstorming period where you create a blueprint for how things should go. Elements of your outline or blueprint should include: 

  • Budget estimates 
  • A project description 
  • The organization/person responsible for completing the project
  • Outcomes and objectives and when they should be reached 
  • Major deliverables, success standard, evaluation guidelines, and products

The PD phase should be a team effort as well. Those involved should know what they’re doing as well as when, how, and why. Being fully informed on a project, especially in this early stage when things may change, helps the team to work together better, exchange ideas, and stay on top of their tasks.

Project Design Uses

It has a number of helpful uses in project management . These include: 

Creating Clear Objectives

Keeping a project clear and linear can be tricky, but project design makes it a little easier. When you know what you’re planning to achieve, it gives you a better idea of how to do so and increases the likelihood that you’ll actually do it! 

Assessing Potential Risks 

It should include assessing all potential risk factors. With thorough risk assessment, you give yourself a better chance of handling problems when they (inevitably) arise. Of course, you can’t plan for everything, but you can still monitor and manage little annoyances to keep your project timeline running smooth. 

Improving Chances of Hitting Milestones and Goals 

Since it is all about proper planning, it also improves your chances of reaching your milestones and objectives. When you have a plan, you have a clear path to follow which helps you to prioritize tasks and handle them in the most effective way so you can move forward. 

Better Communication 

Planning is a great way to facilitate communication and expectations. When your team knows what’s required of them, they’re more likely to hit key details, complete specific tasks, avoid risks, and stay on track. Having an accessible, written project design keeps everyone in the know so your team has something to refer to at each and every step. 

Identifying Task Dependencies 

A project design plan also helps you identify task dependencies. In planning, you’ll find which tasks have to be completed before you can move onto something else. This keeps the project organized and ensures that each task has all the elements it needs to be completed effectively and correctly.

How to Create a Project Design

Creating a PD is an involved process, but it can be broken down into seven steps. Follow these steps and get your project started: 

  1. Define Your Project Goal: At the start of your journey, sit down with your team (employees, partners, stakeholders, etc.) to define the main outcome of your project. Think about how realistic it is, how achievable it is, and whether or not you have the necessary resources. 
  2. Determine Outcomes and Objectives: This is the part where project management really kicks into high gear. Once you’ve defined your goal, you need to think about how you’re going to reach it. This is where project objectives come in to help guide your team on the how, what, when, where, and why of these outcomes. Remember the SMART acronym during this stage.
  3. Iron Out the Wrinkles: Wrinkles may include any risks you’ve identified, constraints that will hinder your progress, and any assumptions that may get in the way of your project. You know what standards you need to meet, what laws to follow, what resources, tools, and tech you’ll need, and how to get them.
  4. Prepare a Visual Aid: Many people are visual learners, so preparing a visual aid generally makes things easier. A graph, a flowchart, or a sketch is something you’ll be doing during this design stage, so use them to your advantage. 
  5. Identify Your Budget: This step determines if your project is attainable. You don’t want to be underfunded, so think about the costs your project will generate, the incomes, and any extra that might arise.
  6. Identify Approval and Monitoring Processes: As your project picture becomes clear, how you determine its success needs to be decided. Make a list of what you’ll use to gauge whether your outcome, deliverable, and final products are what you planned them to be. This list can change and grow but be sure to stick to some fundamentals that your project must meet.
  7. Use Proper Design Documentation: Proper documentation must save and store all project information. Certain project management software is up for the job, but you may also use something as simple as a work chart, Gantt chart, or a project charter. Documenting project design is just another way to keep you organized from the start so that your project stays on track.
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