Project Planning Made Easy With Our 5W1H Method
Phase 1: Initiate Your Project
Establish your team, figure out your community issue/stakeholders and formulate a plan
What: This is the most important part of the project. What is the need? Why should people care? Who does it affect, and why should they support your goals?
Who: Every project needs a dedicated team to make sure that everything runs smoothly
Look for key people, ones that will help you put your best foot forward:
Innovators: Those with ideas to help propel the project and come up with a solution to issues. People that can take ideas and look for ways to incorporate ideas and make sure that they will have the maximum impact on the project. They will also look for imperfections or the constraining factors of the project such as money, supplies, human resources, etc.
Builders: Certain aspects of the project will need people that can use their professional or personal skills to make the project come to life. Depending on the project, these people have the ability to create surveys, construct models, and create a blueprint to the project.
Enforcers: These are the people that will help the group stay on task. They will set the meeting time, record the meetings in writing, and keep the discussion on topic.
Organizers: These people will plan the stages of the project from Step 1 to Step 6, once all the details are calculated and finalized. They will also work with the team to adjust the timeline or move the goalposts/ objectives if necessary. They are also the ones that keep track of the budget.
Teachers: Inevitably a project includes members that are separate from the founding team, however, they will need to be taught the organization/projects goals and expectations. These are the people that are adept at recruiting people, and getting them motivated to do their tasks. They are experts at communicating the ideas of the group to outsiders.
These are all roles that can be filled by many or all of the people in a group, and just because one person holds a position does not mean that the others are not involved. This is a working relationship. Each person might have a given role, but everyone is working on every aspect of the project. Well defined roles, and allocated jobs will help keep everyone stay on task and make sure that the project moves from Step 1 to Step 6. However, the team should come together at the beginning and decide who will fulfill which role as a group so that people are best suited for a specific job based on their skills or qualifications. The core group should be around 3-7 people.
While considering your team members look for:
Concerned and committed community members, especially those that already have experience;
Elected officials, ones that are dedicated to helping the community and already have worked on such legislation;
Members of community networks such as Churches, Synagogues, Mosque, Temples, or other non profit organizations that already do work in the community;
Representatives of schools, universities and public health.
When you have your working team members figure out these core ideas so that everyone is on board with the tasks.
Need: What are you trying to change? Is this a problem within your community that you see? Who else is affected by this issue?
Define: What is the solution to this problem? How do you see this issue being solved? Set clear actionable goals so that you can explain it to anyone in under 30 seconds.
Objectives- Once you have defined your problem and conceptual solution, do the initial research for your project. Has something like this been done before? If so, who did it? Was it successful? What ideas can you implement or make better? What are the assumptions that you will have when you go through your steps? What are the constraints? What issues do you see coming up when working on this project and how do you see yourself solving them?
Resources- What are the resources that you need in order to accomplish your goals? These might be tangible resources, such as paper, food, supplies, etc which are all bought by money. Or they can be intellectual resources, such as advisors, artists, workers, etc.
Budget- What is your budget? How much money do you need? How can you raise money? Can you fundraise by asking individuals through social media, sites like gofundme, or can you ask larger donors such as businesses, government entities, or other sponsors. Project i2i will provide funding for many projects given that your Project team fills out our application found here:
Stakeholders- Who are the stakeholders? Including yourself, who else is putting in effort to make sure that this idea comes into fruition?
When: The timeline of this project. What are the stages of the project, and when do you expect each one to be finished?
Schedule- What is the timeline of this project? What are each person’s goals? Make sure that this is clearly set so that all the team members know when they need to achieve their individual goals by.
Something to consider when working on projects is that things will always generally take longer to achieve than initially thought. Add extra time to leave room for adjustments and issues that will come along.
Where: The location(s) of this project, and the meeting spaces that you will need.
Location- Something that many people do not consider when working on projects are their meeting spaces. Where will they take place? Make sure that you reserve the space ahead of time so that no issues come up.
Location of the project- What locations are you using for the project itself. Sometimes projects help improve public parks, roads, community buildings, etc. Make sure that you get approval by the relevant authorities otherwise all of the planning will go to waste!
Why: Again, reiterate why everyone is working on this project. Clarify it to your team members so that they fully understand their goals and the larger project goals.
Reason- Collaboration and partnerships are necessary for every project, from professional to non-profits. This phase sets the tone for the entire project, that is why it is so important to go over it again.
Ground Rules- Set the do’s and the don’ts of this project. What are the expectations of each member? How will you make sure that each person is being held accountable? What are the repercussions if they do not? It is important to get this out of the way, so that there is no confusion in the future. Many projects fail because they do not have set rules, while you may all trust each other, mistakes and unfortunate events are bound to happen.
Decisions- Ultimately many projects are not successful because they do not get the right decision makers on board. A goal that is not actionable is a dream. Identify who you need to make this project a reality.
How: Plan your steps, and identify members and stages of your development.
Agreement- Make a partnership agreement between the members, and sign it. Hold each other to your word.
Vision- How do you envision this goal will turn out? Write a vision statement about the future of the project
Mission- Write a mission statement, a one sentence definition of the objectives and the steps you will take to achieve them.
Certifications/ Government approvals- Again, make sure that everything is certified by the decision makers.
Congratulations! You have now launched your project.
Phase 2: Research Your Needs
Study what you will need in order to create a picture that others can follow along with.
What- During this phase, you will need to collect the necessary data in order to understand how your project will make an impact. The contributions of your community members, organizations, and professionals are highlighted, and used to find niche solutions that work for everyone. Figure out the materials that you need in this phase, eg. computers, paper, pencils, etc.
By the Numbers- The best way to find out what is necessary for your projects, and what are that your team will make the most impact, it is important to gather information about the community. An easy way to collect information about your community is to use surveys.
Surveys: They should follow a simple rule- make them closed ended, and leave no room for interpretation. Everyone taking the survey should have the same understanding from the questions. Here are some quick survey tips.
Should be short, and sweet. Make them 8-10 questions so that people can finish them within 3-5 minutes.
Ask them for their demographics, (Age, Gender, Ethnicity, Education) Depending on what your project is about you might want to add some more as well.
Tailor your questions depending on your audience.
Make the questions simple. For example- “You feel as if the park is a place that you feel comfortable hanging out with your friends” 1. Not at all 2. Sometimes 3. Not sure 4. Most times 5. All the time/
Keep the rating system consistent throughout the survey.
Send reminders or give them an incentive! People don’t complete surveys, sometimes they’re busy, sometimes they forget. Give them a reason to finish them!
Now what? Now that you have the data, try to graph them. See how you can use the data to understand your issue more deeply. It is great to use Google Forms to create your surveys, they are free and they allow for an easy graphing experience.
Field Studies- These are observational studies that let you scope out the location of the project. Make observable, and detailed responses so that when you come back to your team to discuss what you experienced, you don’t have to rely on your memory. It also helps to take pictures.
Field studies can also include more detailed interviews with people that are more “qualitative”. This helps to expand your point of view, and gather outside perspectives on the problems that you are facing. “Quantitative” requires you to write down numerical information. It helps you compare and contrast sites, problems and scenarios concretely. It is a clear cut information that does not have personal bias.
The type of data you need depends on the type of research you need to do. Each one is different. However, combining both helps you put together a story that is backed up by evidence. Consider doing both. Here are some examples of field studies.
Pedestrian, cyclist, vehicle count of a specific road
Profile of public space users
Potential for the average pedestrian to change their path to use a certain road
Potential to increasing the environmental diversity, eg. adding trees, plants, etc.
This type of work may have already been done by other organizations or public officials, ask around to avoid repeating it. Take advantage of the fact that everyone wants to help their community improve. You want to live in a nice area where the people are helpful, don’t you?
Why- The research is extremely important because it allows you to take note of potential problems that you might face in the future and plan for it.
Documentation is really important because it makes your project legitimate. Not that it isn’t already, but people like to see things in writing. It helps create a clearer picture of what you are trying to do. Imagine the impact that a video documentary about a family living in a home without a roof would have over one that just says that this family has a poor living standard. Makes things more human, doesn’t it?
Helps prioritize actions that are absolutely necessary now, versus one that can be done in the future.
Who- The who of the research is also really important, these are the people that your project will target, that’s why you have to figure out who they are. The research is usually led by the builders and innovators. Are they:
Project area citizens
Local community groups that are representative of the community
Representative from the school and local hospitals
Store owners and people with business interests in the area
Seniors, or people that have been living in the community for a long time
Local Public officials and those with the power to make changes to the area, such as people involved in construction, design, public parks, social development, etc
Having these people involved in your project will help things run a lot smoother, plus it will be easier to gather support from other members of your community and raise funds! They can also support you with the resources that they have such as their own experience or people that are willing to help.
How- These are the steps that you can take to gather data for your project. They should ideally be done in order:
Observe: What do you see in the community? What can you find out about your project? Who are the people that can make changes?
Data: What information already exists? Consult other organizations or officials that are active in your community
Missing information/ Constraints: What is missing from your picture? What are some things that will prevent you from finishing your project?
Solution to missing information: What are you going to do to fix these issues? Brainstorm different ways with your team to find a solution that works best.
Analysis: Bring together the different information or lack thereof and try to paint a whole picture
Action: What are the actions that you can take now? What can you leave for later?
Make it make sense: How can you take all of these things and make it easier for others to easily understand?
There is a story about the Blind Men and the Elephant that you might have heard of. A king gathers six blind men who have never come across an elephant, and tells them that if they can guess what it is, they will earn enough money to live the rest of their life in wealth. Excited, each man feels a different part of the elephant's body, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They each give out their own guess based on what they feel, and their experience, but of course none of them can guess what it is. Dejected, they are angry with themselves and each other because they have a way to become rich, but they don’t want the others to guess before they do so they don’t tell each other what they are feeling. Soon after, the king tells them that they have failed, but that if they had worked together they would have found out the answer making all of them wealthy. Can you find out what the moral of this story is?
There are different versions of this story, but here is one that you might like as well.
Everyone wants to make their community better, but they’re stuck on the idea that they need to go at it alone. But it is ironic, now isn't it? A community is not just made of one person, but a group of people that trust and accept each other’s information and support. Research is also like this- seek help, and you will find that working with others will lead to a better solution, one that works for everyone. You might even find help where you least expect it.
Phase 3: Explore Your Options
Identify ways that you can design your project, and figure out how you can accomplish your goals
What- This part of the project is based on the last two parts, especially the research portion and information that you have gathered. It gives you a chance to come together as a team and brainstorm solutions as a group, along with input about observations and findings that you have uncovered.
When- This should be done very soon after the research phase, leaving very little space in between so that all of the details are fresh and those involved have concrete ideas about things. Remember, people tend to forget about things, so you should always plan in contingency for them.
How- These are the steps that you should take, ideally in order so that your team can formulate the best ideas together, with involvement from each member. The enforcer will lead this meeting with everyone else following along.
Proposals- Have each member of your team come up with various solutions based on what you have learned, data and all. Have each person write down as many ideas as they can on post notes. There are no bad ideas here. Write down everything that you can think of, go wild. You can ask your community members and others involved in the project for proposals as well.
Evaluate- Once your entire team is done, put them all on a board, where everyone can see all of the ideas. Give everyone some time to look them all over (5 minutes). Then, the enforcer will separate a different board into three columns. (Not Possible/ Maybe with some adjustments/ Actionable and effective)
Have some fun with this part. Have each person take one post-it note and place it on one of the columns. Take turns, and repeat until all of the post- its are on the board.
Discuss- As a group, go through the list on the board, starting with the not possible and see if each one fits on there. As a group decide if it belongs on the column or if it should be moved to one of the other ones. Do this with all of the post-its until your team is satisfied with the proposals and their viability.
Planning Action- Start by now creating three separate columns now (Priority 3 or Future actions/ Priority 2 or Medium Term Actions/ Priority 1 or Short term Actions). Repeat steps 2 and 3 with Actionable goals as a team and figure out what your team can accomplish within the short term, medium term and long term for your project. This will help you define what your project can clearly accomplish now, versus in the future. It will also help you out in the next stage (Planning)
Potentials- Remember the maybe ideas that you had? Consider these now, if you did not have enough actionable goals. Again create three columns (Not Possible/ Maybe/ Actionable) Repeat steps 2 and 3, and while doing so come up with the adjustments that you can do to these ideas that will let you take action on them, and place the modified post-it note on their respective column. At the end of the discussion, take a look at the actionable column and decide where on the Priority column that you want to put them.
Confer: Speak with different members of your community to make sure all of your ideas are actually actionable.
Celebrate- You have now just explored potential solutions to your project, and defined whether they are short-term, medium- or long term. This will help move you on your pathway to success.
Why- It is important to complete these steps as a group because each person can give out their experiential input and by working together you can come up with the best solution. No one feels left out and you can bond as a group too. It will help make the planning process much easier, because now your entire team now has an idea of what you need to do in order to succeed.
Who- Although this is done with the core members of your team, your team should confer by setting up different workshops with these people led by the teacher, if you have time:
Professionals working in the project area. There are a lot of professionals from different types of industries that do pro-bono work, and they have valuable understanding of the small details that can make or break the project or provide new outlooks and solutions you didn’t consider.
Expert Citizens- There are people in communities that have been around for a long time, and know how things work. Ask for their help, it can save you a lot of time when considering possible solutions that are viable or not.
Business holders- These community members can help by donating supplies or resources that you might need, or even sponsor your project. Do not leave them out of the process.
Schools- Consider talking to your local school’s teachers, administrators, and students. These are the people most familiar with your community and they have a lot more insight that they might be able to provide. In essence, schools are the most basic foundation of our communities. People learn about their communities through interacting with people in their school. They also have access to parents and guardians that might be interested in your project too.
Libraries- Libraries don’t just offer books, movies, and games, they are one of the best pillars of our communities. They help during emergencies, set up food drives, donations, etc. Ask your local librarian for help. They will provide use of space and resources if it means that the community will improve. (We love librarians!!)
Phase 4: Tackling The Issues
Decide with your team, the plan of action, what steps to take, and who is responsible for them.
What- Once you have decided what the short term, medium term and long term goals are for your project, work out the nitty gritty details of them. This involves doling out responsibilities, creating a time frame for them to get done, and how you will achieve your goals.
How- 5W1H method to figure out the details as to how to make sure that nothing is missed during this important step:
Who: The team that is ultimately making decisions, and participating in this action plan along with people involved, eg. professionals, elected officials, stakeholders, community members, volunteers etc.
What: What is each person doing, and what are their responsibilities/expectations
When: Set up times that work for the people doing each task, try to minimize rescheduling as it pushes the final goal further away, adding valuable time and energy to the project. Determine the general time, day, month, year of your final event if you have one here. You do not need a final time, but make sure everyone knows how soon it is coming up.
Where: This is where all relevant people have to be contacted, so that the locations are determined and there are no questions as to whether you are permitted to use the space or not. This also applies to your final event if you have one. Ask them about how much they charge, whether you need to reserve the space, how far in advance you have to book them.
Why: It gets all of the paperwork out of way and gives everyone a solid time frame of all short term, medium term and long term events and actionable goals.
How: Gather people together during a meeting/workshop and determine all of these things as a team
Why- This is done to prioritize and let your team members, and those involved to know what the priorities in your action plan are even within the short term- long term goals, and which are absolutely essential to the success of your project. It will also take into account the issues that the project may face, and what the specific solutions for them are. If there are any other problems here, especially with those working outside of the group this stage is important because it gives them some time to figure them out and come to a consensus. This helps turn words into motivation for action.
What: This is done in order to validate each aspect of your project. Almost like a go ahead green light that you receive so that you don’t end up at the actual action lost. This will ensure that the project idea is realistic. If they are not, then it gives your team a chance to go back to the Explore Phase, and brainstorm new solutions.
When- This is done after the Explore phase, with some time in between so that there is room to go back and change or improve anything that is necessary. Let people mull over their ideas for a little bit longer, we all think of the best comebacks and ideas the day after in the shower. Give everyone some time to settle right after the exploring phase, then come back together as a group to discuss if there are any new developments.
You wouldn’t eat a pizza the moment that it comes out of the oven, would you? If you try cutting the pizza right away, it will become all uneven and harder to separate ruining the shape. Give it some time to cool off, and slice them when they are nice and ready.
Who- This meeting is led by the organizer, who until this point has kept track of all of the phases and will be in charge of assigning various people to their roles. Like always, everyone is also involved in this decision.
Phase 5: Making a Difference
This is the implementation phase. Where the project ideas are finally brought into fruition.
What- This is the climax, the most important part of the project. The place where all of the action is. All of the priorities are taken care of in order of importance and time. This is where a final event is held if there is one, or work on a project is finally started after all of the go aheads from their relevant parties. This may mean that beautification of a neighborhood to clean up graffiti might be started, a public park is now being constructed, etc.
When- This part of the project may take a day, several days, to months and maybe even years. Depending on the timeline and the difficulty of your project, you should be prepared to keep up with all of the paperwork, communication and activity involved with it.
Where: This, again, depends on the project that you have set up so make sure that every venue is booked and ready to go for action. There is nothing worse than having to shut down your project because it is not being permitted by something simple as a local government clearance!
Who- These are the people that have been involved within your project from the very beginning, or those that are needed now, from local officials to volunteers. For larger scale projects, the majority of the work might fall on contractors, or professionals that are required for the work being done. The Teacher is the main actor in this step, as they are able to communicate effectively all of the plans and ideas to others.
How- The members of your team have an extremely important role in this final step. Their job is to monitor the efforts of the work, communicate with the necessary people, post on social media, inform the public, keep track of the finances and finally complete the portion of the work that has been assigned to them. Make sure that commitments are being held, and as issues come up as they inevitably will, the team’s job will be to come together and figure out the best course of action, so that implementation is not stalled for long. The Innovators and Builders will work together to figure out what needs to be done with the support of their team.
Why- This is the culmination of all of the work that you and your team have been doing until now, so you want to make sure that things run smoothly. This is where your vision becomes a reality, and your mission becomes a success. Take pride in the work that you have done until now.
Phase 6: Celebrate Your Accomplishments
This is the phase that is more important still, after the project is finished.
What- After the project implementation has been finished, it is important to come together as a team and learn what went right, what went wrong and what the next steps are. It is also a moment of recognition for all of the work that has been done. This is normally the ribbon cutting event.
Who- Everyone that has been involved in this project, from core team members, to supporting citizens, professionals, local officials, and others that have donated or supported in any way.
Why- People want to know what happened with the project that they supported, in fact letting them know how it went is a way to get them to support even more future endeavors. That’s not only why though, it is also done to celebrate the people involved, the work that was done, and get the rest of the community members that didn’t know about it to understand what was done.
When- Do it soon after the project is finished, and there are no more or minimal corrections to make.
How- These should be the steps that you should take after the completion of the project, however, depending on your project, it might look different:
Bring together your team in order to work out the small issues with the parties involved, and talk about the things that went right, what went wrong, and what you all plan to do afterwards
Plan a ceremony that officially signals the end of the project, including food and drinks, games, music, etc.
Set a date, time, and place and create an event, advertise on social media and invite everyone involved
Create certificates of recognition, Most diligent, Best Communicator, etc. to highlight the work that individuals have done. People love to get recognized for things, so give them the satisfaction that their work was meaningful! If it weren’t for them, the project would have been so much harder to complete.
At the time of the ceremony, have the team members present the awards to people involved, take photos, etc.
Let everyone know what is next, are you going to start a new project, keep working to improve the situation, etc. Give them a chance to support you even further.
Congratulations! That was not so hard, was it? Each and every member of your team, from the core group to small time volunteers put in effort and dedication to finish your project and make a positive change in your community. Many projects are started, yet most never finish. Great work!