Project Planning™ | Project Planning Training Activity

**FOR USE IN VIRTUAL TRAINING & FACE-TO-FACE TRAINING SESSIONS** ​Apply basic project planning principles to the construction of a log cabin within a tight deadline and within a tight budget!

Learning Objectives

  • demonstrates the importance of a critical path
  • emphasises the need to schedule efficiently
  • highlights the need to plan for contingencies
  • covers labour planning and materials ordering
  • shows how cashflow is crucial to a project

Five-Year Repeat Use Licence

This Northgate training activity comes with a five-year licence for repeat use with up to 24 participants per training session within the licence-holding organisation. Please ask for a discount on multiple licences to use with larger groups. Also includes access to the Northgate Trainerhub (see below for details).

  • Participants

    3-24 (up to four teams of 3-6 per team)

  • Timing

    1.5 hours + debrief

  • Uses a computer?

    Yes - 1 PC required (printer optional)

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The Activity

Project Planning is an easy-to-use team activity that tests participants' project management and planning skills in terms of:

  • planning a schedule
  • resource allocation (materials & labour)
  • cash-flow smoothing
  • cost control

Each team represents the management of the Log Cabin Company that designs and constructs wooden holiday homes. Teams must plan, and quote, for the construction of a log cabin. The client is, of course, looking for the cheapest approach but is also concerned about the quality of the plan.

Teams have details of the 7 stages of the project from clearing the land to putting the roof on and landscaping. They have a file of information about the labour required for each phase and the cost and delivery times of materials. Their task is to plan the build within the deadline and within the budget, allowing for contingencies such as rainy days. They have 90 minutes to plan their project and complete a Schedule, an Order Form and a quotation.

Their schedules are entered into a computer program that identifies the shortcomings of their plans and scores them out of 100. Can the team work together and come up with a feasible plan? The contract is awarded to the highest-scoring team!

This activity now includes a version for virtual training, in addition to the physical activity for use in face-to-face training sessions.

Trainer's Role

  • Introduce the activity to the whole group in plenary using the PowerPoint presentation provided.
  • Explain that teams are going to plan a project - the construction of a log cabin.
  • Issue the Team Folders and allow teams up to 90 minutes planning.
  • At the end of the planning phase, collect the Schedules and Order Forms and input the data into the computer program (very straightforward).
  • Issue Review Forms for teams to analyse their performance.
  • Conduct a debrief, getting teams to give feedback on how they worked together and how they approached the task.
  • Issue the final reports and award the contract to the highest scoring team.
  • Lead a discussion on the key points and summarise the lessons (supplied on the PowerPoint presentation).

Pack Contents

  • Trainer’s Notes
  • Computer Program (internet access required)
  • PowerPoint Presentation
  • Team Folders containing:
    • Introduction
    • Financial Considerations
    • Material Requirements
    • Material Supplies
    • Workforce Requirements
    • Schedule
  • Planning Sheet (three options)
  • Schedule
  • Order Form
  • Review Form
  • Trainer's Sample Plan

This activity is supplied as a hard copy pack for face-to-face classroom use and as a set of digital files for virtual classroom use (the digital files are supplied via the Northgate Trainerhub).

Northgate Trainerhub

Benefits of the online Northgate Trainerhub include:

  • Easy-to-access resource library which stores all the digital files for the activity in one place
  • Immediate access to upgrades made to the activity over the five-year licence term
  • Access to an online Trainer Forum where you can post questions, share experiences & network with other Trainers
  • Access to free activities and icebreakers
  • Option to send briefing information to team leaders digitally via the hub using Team Access Codes
  • Unlimited Trainer logins for all Trainers based at the licence-holding site

'Project Planning' always gets a good review. It's an excellent, interactive component on the project management course for junior/ middle managers who are new to projects. The best learning point is juggling a range of variables (schedule, budget, resources) simultaneously – key to project management.

A. Myers, Ashorne Hill Management College

The 'Project Planning' session ended with a standing ovation and request for more! Used with design engineers of all levels from graduate to middle management as a stand-alone activity to identify any specific gaps and as reinforcement of existing skills. The best learning points were: start from the end and work back; read all the brief properly; consider all elements rather than concentrate on one; and the importance of team working and utilising all skills. High impact both in the activity itself (the doing) and the review following as knowledge was willingly shared. The feedback from delegates was exceptional – they enjoyed both the actual 'doing themselves' and, as a consequence, felt they got far more out of the review session.

L. Taylor, Cundall, Johnston & Partners

Delegates found 'Project Planning' challenging and interesting. The exercise proved very useful and I'm sure we'll be using it again!

K. White, Blyth Valley Council

The Project Planning activity really highlighted the human instinct to try to complete things as quickly as possible rather than make use of the full time available and deliver a more quality output. The game was very well designed to allow participants to fall naturally into that trap and it prompted some healthy discussions on what they would do differently next time. I liked the competitive nature of it and the comprehensive reports that each team gets. It led to a discussion not just on project planning but also on teamwork. So all in all, great activity that was challenging even for a Senior Group of Managers.

Andrew Mardon, Director of Consulting, Kantar Retail Middle East

I love using the 'Project Planning' training activity on my level 5 Leadership and Management programmes. I use it to put into practice project management tools and techniques and participants find it really good fun. It really brings project management to life. They often get quite carried away with their spreadsheets and cannot wait to find out the results!

Shirley Gaston, Founding Director, Azesta

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