Define the Scope
The first, and most important, step in any project is defining the scope of the project. What is it you are supposed to accomplish by managing this project? What is the project objective? Equally important is defining what is not included in the scope of your project. If you don't get enough definition from your boss, clarify the scope yourself and send it back upstairs for confirmation.
Determine Available Resources
What people, equipment, and money will you have available to you to achieve the project objectives? As a project manager, you usually will not have direct control of these resources, but will have to manage them through matrix management. Find out how easy or difficult that will be to do.
Check the Timeline
When does the project have to be completed? As you develop your project plan you may have some flexibility in how you use time during the project, but deadlines usually are fixed. If you decide to use overtime hours to meet the schedule, you must weigh that against the limitations of your budget.
Assemble Your Project Team
Get the people on your team together and start a dialog. They are the technical experts. That's why their functional supervisor assigned them to the project. Your job is to manage the team.
List the Big Steps
What are the major pieces of the project? If you don't know, start by asking your team. It is a good idea to list the steps in chronological order but don't obsess about it; you can always change the order later.
List the Smaller Steps
List the smaller steps in each of the larger steps. Again, it usually helps you remember all the steps if you list them in chronological order. How many levels deep you go of more and more detailed steps depends on the size and complexity of your project.
Develop a Preliminary Plan
Assemble all your steps into a plan. What happens first? What is the next step? Which steps can go on at the same time with different resources? Who is going to do each step? How long will it take? There are many excellent software packages available that can automate a lot of this detail for you. Ask others in similar positions what they use.
Create Your Baseline Plan
Get feedback on your preliminary plan from your team and from any other stakeholders. Adjust your timelines and work schedules to fit the project into the available time. Make any necessary adjustments to the preliminary plan to produce a baseline plan.
Request Project Adjustments
There is almost never enough time, money or talent assigned to a project. Your job is to do more with the limited resources than people expect. However, there are often limits placed on a project that are simply unrealistic. You need to make your case and present it to your boss and request these unrealistic limits be changed. Ask for the changes at the beginning of the project. Don't wait until it's in trouble to ask for the changes you...