Transform teamwork with Confluence. See why Confluence is the content collaboration hub for all teams. Get it free

A Guide to Project Design in Project Management

Browse topics

Project managers often face challenges when managing various project components and resources. However, a well-crafted project design can simplify project management and help teams collaborate. It lays the groundwork for your ideas, resources, and deliverables, setting a clear path before the project’s wheels are even in motion. An effective project design not only streamlines your preparatory work but also paves the way for more efficient project management.

By establishing a coherent project design, teams can synchronize their understanding of the project’s vision, expected outcomes, and methodologies. This guide delves into the seven pivotal steps of project design, providing insights on crafting a design with precision using tools like Jira and Confluence.

What is project design?

Project design is the process of planning a project’s objectives, structure, tasks, and deliverables and deciding on the definition of done. Project managers execute the design process before implementation to align teams on project objectives. 

Developing alternative designs is helpful for stakeholders to decide on the best execution plan. A well-managed project design can ensure stakeholder buy-in. It’s important to get stakeholder buy-in sooner than later so you avoid getting their feedback late in the process, which can cause a roadblock.

How project design works

Project design happens early on in the five project management phases as a broad blueprint before any further detailed project planning.

A project design uses Gantt charts and flowcharts to provide a project overview. It explains the project’s plan, timeline, and roadmap, establishing a baseline for the team and stakeholders. A project plan template outlines the project design.

Why is project design important?

Project design ensures the viability and success of a project and helps communicate project value to stakeholders. For example, you can demonstrate to stakeholders what your plans are and set expectations for the entire project. 
Some other benefits of project design include: 

  • Ensuring project success: Without taking stock of a project’s potential scope and resources beforehand, you’ll build a project plan in the dark. 
  • Minimizing risks: A project design will take into account potential roadblocks. That way, you can figure out ways to circumvent them ahead of time. 
  • Maximizing use of resources: With a project design in place, you’ll know what resources are available and how to utilize them better. 

The design phase of a project determines the resources required and ensures efficient resource utilization.

Steps in the project design process

The seven steps in the project design process are important for Agile teams to simplify the Agile project management process and plan how the project will unfold.

For effective project design, teams must follow these seven steps:

Define goals

Project goals should be clear and achievable, never exceeding team members’ abilities. 

Goals should align with the project purpose and business objectives. As a project manager, you should consider whether your project’s goals add value to your company’s products and customers.

The SMART system—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound—is a proven method for establishing goals. You can use the template in Confluence to help you. Using the template will allow your team to set specific and measurable goals.

Establish outcomes

Outline the required project outcomes and align them with your project goals. Outcomes should resolve product problems for your users, such as functionality and usability. In short, they should further improve your product. For example, an outcome can be to improve the sales flow of the product. 

It’s important to note that outcomes are not deliverables or work output. Instead, outcomes determine how customers will use deliverables and their value to customers and the company. 

Outlining project outcomes provides a measure of success and a definition of done. From those outcomes, you can better assess their impact.

Identify risks

Risk management is essential to project design. Your job as a project manager is to anticipate problems. You’ll need to look for potential roadblocks, such as development’s current capacity, and determine its impact on the project.

Risks include stretched resources, high costs, or scope creep. For example, once you have identified scope creep as a potential risk, you can mitigate this risk by creating clear project parameters and identifying and adhering to deliverables.

Create a project strategy

The strategy is the foundation of the project plan and ensures the team reaches its goals while adhering to project constraints. You should create the strategy at the same time as the project overview to ensure precision in your execution. 

To create an excellent project strategy, study similar projects and learn from them. This can help unearth common pitfalls, allowing you to plan for them. Once you have identified several potential strategies, consider the pros and cons of each and apply your research to identify the best strategy. This process is part of continuous improvement.

Set a budget

The next step is to create a budget with the information gathered in the previous steps. The project budget will depend on the required project resources. The free budget template in Jira is extremely useful for building a project budget. 

Creating a budget helps to reduce the likelihood of cost increases and misallocated resources. Stakeholders appreciate project managers who stick to a budget.

Prepare a contingency plan

It’s important to create a contingency plan for all identified risks. For example, you may need to communicate a change to your customers, especially if the change fundamentally affects the product’s primary function. That kind of change could be a risk where you lose users if you don’t communicate the change to them properly. So, your contingency plan could include onboarding and customer success training, so you’re communicating any changes to customers.

Track deliverables

A well-rounded project design includes details on project deliverables. It’s important to monitor and track the progress of deliverables during the project to ensure the team stays on target, remains within budget, and meets deadlines. 

Jira helps project managers track deliverables using Gantt charts or Kanban boards to track project progress.

How to build the best project design

To build an effective product design for your business, there are a few important things to know, such as:

  • Communicate effectively. Communication and transparency are critical to project success. Jira includes advanced roadmaps to facilitate communication. These enable teams to collaborate and visualize boards, projects, and filters for insight into project design. You can use Confluence to create the documentation for your project and organize the team. 
  • Involve stakeholders. Getting stakeholder buy-in as soon as possible ensures a project will meet their expectations. 
  • Adapt to change. Deal with changes promptly by reviewing the contingency plan and quickly resolving issues as they arise. Jira allows you to execute your plan by highlighting any possible roadblocks ahead of time. Jira integrates with Confluence for a seamless project management experience.

Excel in project design with Jira

Now that you understand the concept behind project design, you can use the process for your next venture. Effective project design is the foundation of a successful project, ensuring projects are delivered on time and within budget.

Jira helps you build an effective project design and assists your team with understanding and sharing project goals with other team members. Use Confluence and Jira to track your project and create your documentation.

Project design: Frequently asked questions

How do you define project scope?

The project scope lays out all aspects of a project, including deadlines and deliverables. It describes the project boundaries and helps communicate the exact nature of the project to key stakeholders.

The project scope becomes a document that helps team members understand the project outcomes.

What is the difference between project scope and project objectives?

Project scope is the overall outcome of the project. For example, you’ll outline all the tasks and deliverables for this particular project. Project objectives define the project outputs and what the team wants to achieve. For example, an objective might be a deliverable that increases product performance.

How does project design contribute to overall project success?

A well-designed project plan enhances efficiency, minimizes risk, and guides the project toward success. Project design brings project details together for clarity, giving the team confidence to execute the project effectively.

You may also like

Project Poster Template

A collaborative one-pager that keeps your project team and stakeholders aligned.

Project Plan Template

Define, scope, and plan milestones for your next project.

Enable faster content collaboration for every team with Confluence

Up Next