Planning Phase

During the Planning Phase, the Business Analysis team will work closely with all project roles to flesh out and document technical and functional requirements. On the heels of this activity, the Project Manager will work closely with the Owner/Technical Lead and all team members to develop the project schedule, identify and document risks and issues, as well as resources needed. ServiceNow will be the repository for these important project items that will be tracked and updated throughout the project.

Steps and Output


For a more detailed view of the Planning phase in the context of an entire project lifecycle, see the Project Management Process Overview swimlane (PDF).

Helpful Tips

Use ServiceNow for Project Planning
  • A well thought-out project plan provides clear direction and understanding of team member’s contributions to the success of the project by answering the following questions:
    • How will the work be accomplished?
    • Who will perform the work?
    • What exactly is the work to be done?
    • When will the work be done?
  • ServiceNow is the project’s system of record for DIT projects. The project schedule provides a roadmap for effective project planning and execution, and is used for monitoring progress throughout the project.
    • Within ServiceNow, utilize the Planning Console and Project Workbench to present two views of the work breakdown structure.
    • Also, ServiceNow provides functionality for entering and tracking project risks, issues, and key decisions.
Develop the Schedule
  • Use the project schedule as a living document. Consult and modify it throughout the life of the project as factors within and outside the project affect the project elements.
  • ServiceNow provides the ability to link tasks to demonstrate dependencies, assigning resources to tasks, and allowing resources to track their effort towards task completion.
  • There are many ways to establish Milestones for a project. Two common ways are:
    • Determine specific events that need to occur by a specific time.
      Example: A stakeholder meeting will be held on (date).
    • Have recurring Milestones at intervals (quarter, monthly, bi-annual) that are not linked to a specific event but rather identify points to mark anticipated progress towards an objective.
      Example: 3 months from project start, the team will have a proof-of-concept
Divide the Work into Tasks
  • Tasks and subtasks (a.k.a., parent and child tasks): used when an overarching task requires subtasks to be completed. In ServiceNow, this is accomplished by indenting subtasks and the umbrella task will pull its duration as a cumulative roll-up of all subtasks.
Define the Relationships Between Tasks
  • Predecessor: the task that comes before a subsequent task and determines when a successor task begins or ends (as defined by their logical relationship). The predecessor is the task that controls the logical relationship.
  • Successor: the task that follows a predecessor task as defined by their logical relationship.
  • Logical Relationships
    • Finish-to-Start (fs): When task A finishes, task B begins. Task A’s end date determines task B’s start date. This is the most common relationship.
    • Start-to-Start (ss): When task A begins, task B begins. Tasks A and B start at the same time.
    • Finish-to-Finish (ff): When task A finishes, task B can finish. Tasks A and B end at the same time.
    • Start-to-Finish (sf): When task A starts, task B finishes. This is the least common relationship.
Set Duration and Define Lag and Lead
  • Communicate with team members to determine realistic duration for each task.
  • Lag: the duration that a successor task has a delay in relation to a predecessor. Represented by positive (+) numbers in ServiceNow. Example: fs+3 denotes task B will start 3 days after task A ends.
  • Lead: the duration that a successor task can be advanced in relation to a predecessor. Represented by negative (-) numbers in ServiceNow. Example: ff-2 denotes task B will finish 2 days in advance of task A ending.
Consider Complexity and Political Sensitivity
  • A Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RACI) assists with mapping out the expected roles and responsibilities in projects. A typical matrix is created by analyzing who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed (RACI) at different stages of a project. This is a valued exercise as it gets everyone involved in setting expectations, serves as a good reference point, and ensures successful interaction across project stakeholders.
  • A project communication plan is created by the project team early in the project to indicate their agreement on how the team will communicate important information during the project such as: status, meetings, issues, deliverables access, project changes and design/document reviews.
    • This plan also includes important communications to stakeholders and folks that are not part of the project team. Such as: executive briefing sheets, website updates, press releases, roll out plans and presentations to the community.