Planning projects correctly

Jona Prodöhl

Whether strategic projects, corporate transformations or major operational projects - good planning is the cornerstone of success. We are certain: without planning it won't work - and the better the planning, the easier the projects will go. In this article, we highlight the planning of complex project portfolio projects and the steps that ensure successful implementation.

Here is an overview of the most important points:

  • Divide projects into individual parts
  • Distribute responsibilities early on
  • Protect sensitive information
  • Make your project measurable
  • Bring all stakeholders to the table
  • Work in a defined project cycle
  • Draw on the expertise of your team to develop the project plan.

You can find more explanations of the individual points in this article

Together with our project portfolio management experts, we have created a guide for you that goes into detail on the individual points. Download your guide now for free!

Project structure

A sensible structuring of your projects is one of the most important steps for a successful implementation. The structure depends largely on the goals of your project or the problem it is intended to solve. It can be based on company divisions, project phases or other criteria and ensures transparency and an overview.

Arrange packages and measures correctly

Strategic projects in particular are so complex that you cannot simply work on them with a simple to-do list. According to the motto "divide and conquer", a sensible division of the project at the beginning is particularly important. This also makes it possible to assign responsibilities for the individual parts of the project.

Renowned management consultants divide their projects into packages of measures and - as the name suggests - individual measures underneath. The packages are put together in such a way that they bundle measures that fit together thematically. It is important that a package does not contain too many measures. As a rule of thumb, packages of measures should be

  • if possible, account for less than 20% of the total project effect,
  • last no longer than 1/3 of the time of the overall project horizon, and
  • be evaluable within the first 2-4 reporting cycles.

How do you deal with sensitive project areas?

The individual project parts should be assigned as early as possible to specific persons who are responsible for the further definition of the underlying details. The assignment of persons regularly presents us with a challenge in project planning: In many strategy and transformation projects, there are sensitive project areas related to organisational and personnel decisions, innovative products or M&A scenarios. In these cases, the project management strives to establish the greatest possible confidentiality, while in other project areas, work should be as collaborative and open as possible. This is where project portfolio management software that offers differentiated rights management can shine.


Once the basic structure of the project with packages and measures is in place, the individual work steps for each measure can be defined. Ideally, the project participants from the technical departments can already be involved here. After all, their detailed knowledge is needed and they are also responsible for the execution of the tasks later on.


Effects are the tool of choice when it comes to quantifiable measurement of project success. Financially relevant values or other KPIs should be measured for each measure. To reduce the effort, consolidated tracking of the quantitative effects resulting from the project at measure level makes sense; at package and project level, aggregation of the effects should take place.


At the beginning it is important to bring together all stakeholders in the project. Here the project, the individual parts and the responsibilities can be presented and discussed. This procedure aims to get all stakeholders on board and ensure a high level of acceptance, motivation and commitment. In our article on the kick-off-meeting find out more.

Cycle and reporting

Humans are creatures of habit. Take advantage of this and set a clearly defined cycle for project work and reporting. We recommend the tried and tested one-month project cycle. About three weeks of this are spent on active project work. The last week is then used for analyses, reports, project meetings and steering the project. These tasks are best managed with the help of a PPM software.

Bottom-up or Top-down

A common question is the distribution of tasks and the management style that brings the best results in the course of project planning. From our experience, a mixture of "bottom-up" and "top-down" is particularly effective. What do we mean by this? The basic structure, such as project parts and goals, is set by the management and project leadership. The detailed elaboration of the project plan is in turn carried out bottom up. This is especially true for the planning of activities and effects at the measure level mentioned above. This mixture creates the ideal combination of clear project orientation and ambitious goals of the management with the technical expertise and a high level of project identification on the part of the project participants.

Planning your project portfolio sets the course for subsequent project success. To keep our blog post crisp, we have concentrated on selected, essential points. To make your project portfolio planning easier, our project portfolio management experts have created a guide that goes into more detail on the individual points. Download it now for free!


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