What Is Project Development? With Steps and Tips

Updated March 10, 2023

When completing projects, it's useful to develop a detailed outline. Using an efficient project development plan to create your outline can help you track your team's budget, deadline and goals for a project. If your position requires you to plan projects, understanding the project development process can help you plan and organize successful projects. In this article, we discuss what project development is, explain the steps it involves and offer a list of tips to help you as you create a project development plan.

Related: 8 Steps To Creating a Project Timeline and Top Benefits

What is project development?

Project development involves organizing and planning all the variables that go into a project, including deciding materials, creating a budget and creating tasks for team members. It also involves the processes needed to complete a project, like changing the plans throughout project completion and identifying areas of improvement to help the project run more smoothly. Typically, project managers use five steps in project development, which include initiation, planning, execution, controlling and closing. Here are several items to keep in mind throughout project development:

  • Goals: The goals of a project are the intended outcomes that you want the project to accomplish, and they can include long-term or short-term goals for a workplace.

  • Timeline: The timeline of a project shows the schedule for when team members should complete their project tasks by, which ensures team members coordinate with the development plans and complete their tasks in a timely manner.

  • Materials: These involve the resources and equipment you need to complete a project.

  • Budget: This is the total amount of finances that your team can spend on a project, and it usually depends on the cost of materials and labor for a project.

Related: The Importance of Project Management

Steps in project development

It's important to complete each step in project development so that you can have a successful project. Here are the steps you can use to help you with project development:

1. Initiation

The first step involves ensuring a clear objective, title and timeline for your project. Think of various goals you want the project to achieve, which can help you determine a project outline. Here are some questions you can ask to better understand the project's goals:

  • Who will this project help?

  • Which department benefits from this project?

  • Why is this project important?

  • What changes will this project make?

  • What is the likelihood that this project will be successful?

2. Planning

Many project managers consider the planning stage to be the most important part of project development. It involves creating an outline for how you can complete the project from start to finish. Try using online resources to find a detailed project development template. Since you refer back to the outline throughout the course of the project for guidance, it's essential to make sure that its thorough and clear. To create your outline, first decide the tasks that you want each team member to complete. Then, add details about their responsibilities regarding the project and the deadline for each task.

The next part of the outline involves creating a budget for the project. Some project managers choose to collaborate with accountants or finance managers to create a project budget. Remember to include the cost of materials, labor and overhead costs, like rent and equipment fees. After you complete the budget, create a list of all materials you may use in the project, and write down an estimated cost associated with each material to make sure it fits within the budget.

3. Execution

After you have an outline of your project plans, you can begin completing the project. Assign the tasks in your outline to your team members, answer any questions they may have and identify any areas where the project may need improvement. For example, if you notice that the budget isn't big enough to include all the materials you need, you may work to expand the budget or try using fewer materials. It's important to make adaptations throughout this phase, since you can observe team members as they work and determine necessary changes.

Related: Understanding the Project Management Processes and Phases

4. Control

After you have made changes and ensured the project development plans operate smoothly, it's important to ensure that your team members follow the updated plan closely. Try to monitor each team member's activity to see if they can reach deadlines and follow the project's guidelines. In order for the project to be successful, it's vital that each team member offers effective and valuable contributions.

5. Closing

After your team completes the project, it's useful to create a project report that details how well the project development plan guided your team. This report can give you an idea of what elements within the project plans worked best for your team, and which areas need improvement. If you create project development plans often, producing reports allows you to see common trends throughout your plans, like if there's a specific area of planning that may cause issues. Here are some topics to consider including in your project report:

  • How many goals did your project achieve?

  • Which goals did the project not achieve and why?

  • What changes did you make throughout the project?

  • What would you do differently for the next project?

  • Was the project development plan useful?

  • Which part of the plans weren't useful?

  • Which part of the plan was the most useful?

  • Who used the project development plan most?

Project development tips

Here are several tips you can keep in mind while creating project development plans:

Inform stakeholders

Since stakeholders are often a vital part of a project's finances, it's important to keep stakeholders informed of all decisions and plans. Try to notify them of the materials, timeline and goals of the project once you complete the project plan. It's a good idea to provide them with an outline of the project, since keeping stakeholders informed can help them feel more involved and aware of the project's progress.

Related: A Comprehensive Guide To Stakeholders in the Workplace

Keep your team involved

If you work on a team, it's a good idea to keep them involved in project development. They may offer valuable advice on how to approach the project, and they can help you brainstorm ideas for project planning, since they likely have first-hand experience of working on projects related to the one you're developing.

Related: Teamwork and Collaboration: What They Are and How To Improve Them

Seek feedback

Once you complete your project development plans, submit them to management for feedback. If management identifies any areas of improvement within the plans, they can contact you to further communicate about the specific issues. It's useful to be open to feedback so that you can make any changes that may help the project run more smoothly.


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