Project Management Tips

8. Project Planning Checklist
by David Allen


Talking to corporate executives across the country, I often find that project planning is an issue.  I developed this Trigger List to scan possible ideas to be considered in your projects. It is especially good when you're just brainstorming, and giving yourself permission to capture any and all ideas that pop into your head. (Download this Tip as Word doc here).



  • Whose input do we need?
  • Whose input could we use?
  • Has anything like this been done before?
  • What mistakes can we learn from?
  • What successes can we learn from?
  • What resources do we have?
  • What resources might we need?


Project KickStart is also a fantastic brainstorming tool.

Download the free trial here.


Executive issues

  • How does this relate to the strategic plan?
  • How does it relate to other priorities, directions, goals?
  • How will this affect our competitive position?



  • Who's accountable for this project's success?
  • Lines of communication
  • Methods of reporting
  • What structures do we need?
  • What planning is still likely to be required?
  • What re-grouping will we need? How often?
  • What people do we need?
  • Current staffing?
  • Hiring?
  • Subcontractors?
  • Consultants?
  • How do we get involvement?
  • What skills are required?
  • Who needs to know how to do what?
  • What training do we need?
  • How do we get it?
  • What other communication do we need?
  • Who needs to be informed as we go along?
  • What policies/procedures affected? What needed?
  • What about morale? Fun?
  • Staffing?


  • What will this cost?
  • How do we get it?
  • What might affect the cost?
  • Might we need additional $?
  • What are the potential payoffs ($)?
  • Who signs the checks?


  • What is the timing?
  • Hard deadlines?
  • What might affect timing?
  • Who's going to do the work?
  • How do we ensure complete delivery?


  • How will we monitor our progress?
  • How will we know if we're on course?
  • What data do we need, when?
  • What reports, to whom, when?


  • Whose buy-in do you need?
  • How can you get it?

Stakeholders - Considerations?

  • Board
  • Stockholders
  • Employees
  • Suppliers
  • Customers
  • Community


  • Issues?
  • Regulations?


  • What requires room?
  • How do you get it?
  • What tools do we need? When?
  • Phones
  • Computers


  • What might you need to know?

Public Relations

  • Is there value in others knowing about this?
  • How do we do that?


  • What could happen?
  • Could we handle it?

Creative thinking...

  • Who would have concern about the success of this project?
  • What would they say, ask, or input, that you haven't yet?
  • What's the worst idea you can imagine, about doing this project?
  • (What is therefore the best idea, which is its opposite?)
  • What is the most outrageous thing you can think of, about this project?
  • How would a 12-year-old kid relate to this project?
  • What would make this project particularly unique?
  • What the worst that could happen?
  • How could we deal with that?
  • What's the best that could happen?
  • Are we ready to deal with that?
  • How do we feel about this project?


Project KickStart works with you to

generate a well-thought-out project plan.

Download the free trial here.


Feel free to copy and paste this into your own system, and then edit for customized checklist for your specific kinds of projects. Or, download this Tip as Word doc here.



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David Allen's Action to Outcome Management System and Getting Things Done (GTD) has been transforming the way corporate teams and executives handle time and project management. His national seminar tours and private consultations have been delivered to more than 400,000 people and companies -- from corporate giants like Microsoft and Sony, to entrepreneurial start-ups.


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