Process planning is a key step in the broader effort known as process management. The idea behind this type of planning is to identify the general goals associated with the process and develop a broad concept of the steps involved in that process. From this perspective, planning of this type helps to provide an outline for the process under consideration that can then be fleshed out with details and used to create a viable process within a wider project. In order to keep the planning on target, it is important to identify the goals for the process, consider broad steps that would make it possible to reach those goals, and then arrange those steps into a logical sequence.
Before any progress can be made with process planning, it is essential to identify the desired outcome of that process. Setting goals for the process provides the basic framework for figuring out how the process must work in order to reach those goals. As part of the process, considering the issues of not only what it should do but why that process should bring about a specific result will help establish a clear agenda for moving forward.
Once the goals are in place, the process planning can move on to defining the general steps involved within that process. At this juncture, there is no attempt to define specifics of each of those steps. The idea is to develop a general idea of how to get to the desired goals, then arrange those broad steps into a sequence that is logical and workable. Making sure to keep the steps as brief as possible will avoid complicating the process.
In some cases, the temptation to blur the lines between process planning and process management can be very strong. Typically, it is a good idea to make a clear distinction between the two, focusing on the planning as a way to create a general approach that can later be fleshed out with specifics. Doing so helps to provide a solid foundation that can be referred to when evaluating how to manage the steps to best advantage. In addition, the outline developed as part of the process planning can make it easier to keep the goals in mind when settling on the particulars of how to manage each step, a characteristic that will often prevent wandering into side issues that could complicate things unnecessarily.