One of the most important steps to management of project is to know to “how to plan a project”. It is the duty of a project manager to create a plan taking inputs from the team and stakeholders for a success project delivery. According to Wikipedia, a project plan answers these questions about the project:
When you draft the answers to these questions clearly, it will clearly define the approach that a team will follow to deliver the required scope of the project.
What is a project management plan?
A project plan is a critical part of putting the puzzle together. It guides how a project will run. As stated by Project Management Institute, “Project plan is a formal document to guide both execution of project and project control.” It includes the purpose of the project manager for each project part.
Why to Prepare a Project Plan?
Regardless of what type of organization you are part of, project planning process is the key to form the basis of understanding for any kind of project. It predicts the difficulties by identifying what needs to be done and be ready for the difficulties. When you make a project plan you are able to answer a variety of questions like:
- Will it be finished on time?
- Do I have the enough resources for the project?
- What will the total project cost?
- Will the plan bring benefit to our business?
- What are the timelines for the project?
- Who will do what when someone is unavailable?
- When things will happen?
A project plan will bring project success and;
- Better project scope
- No losing sight of the original goal
- Supportive top management
- Engagement with stakeholders
Project planning process is often taken to a new level with the use of a software tool to prepare the general plan of the project. A project planning software will make it simple for teams to create a work breakdown structure, Gantt charts and other boundless benefits. What’s more? Effective project planning will help tackling the pitfalls directly. The right project planning tool will make tracking the project at a later stage more easier.
Components of a project plan
Now that we know why we need a project plan. Let’s learn the components of project plan and how to plan a project to create a foolproof project plan.
A project has a defined start and end, so this section will make it easy to define the purpose of the project. It sets out the main phases of the project. A project schedule delivers the objective of the project, what needs to be performed and in which timeframes the project needs to be completed. It communicates the minimum time, cost and budget that would be required for completing the project. In order to create the project schedule, you will have to cater to the following needs:
- Finding the activities to produce the deliverable
- Finding the sequence of activities
- Finding the dependencies
- Finding the work periods
- Finding how long will it take to complete activities
Set & Prioritize Goals
As a project manager, you are responsible for setting the goals of project that defines the course of plan of the whole project. The goals include everything from listing the stakeholders, their needs, and setting specific project goals. In order to make your project successful you should outline the goals associated with your project. In your project plan, write your business’ goals to clearly share the objectives with everyone. You need to be focussed on goals to achieve success. Determine the crucial things in your project and turn them into project goals. Communicate them to your team. Develop a detailed action plan to help achieve goals.
Risk Management Planning
Managing risks simply means calculating all possible risks that may create a danger during the course of project. Dangerous conditions prevailing in projects affects the project success. With a risk management plan, with careful planning, you can eliminate the risks altogether. You can start with identifying the risks at the start of the project to minimize their potential impact.
Before the start of project you should have these things checked with yourself:
- Monitor the potential risks within the project team
- Log all new risks and opportunities
- Define the responsibility of assignment matric
- Define the delegation of authority
- The overall responsibilities by describing the description
- Predict the impact of possible outcomes
No project plan is complete until you come up with a budget that estimates the cost and manages the actual and forecast costs against the budget. Whether a big or a small project, there will always be an expectation of how much will the project cost and how much time will it take. So, it is really critical to come up with a detailed estimate for the costs of the project. Then add up the estimated into a budget plan.
While making the budget be sure to know certain things:
- Expenditure for each work package
- Accounting system to record the costs
- Track the overall costs
- Resources cost rates
- Cost of quality
Distinguishing between tasks and milestones is another major component of a project plan. On large projects, it can be difficult at times. Ask yourself these questions when you are setting milestones in your plan:
- Is this task deliverable?
- Is this an important part of the project?
- It should be reviewed by stakeholders?
How to create a project plan using a project planning software
Businesses, large and small, should create a project plan whenever undertaking any project. It will give the project managers and teams a solution that can help them keep organized while running projects. When you prepare a project plan that is well-designed on a project planning tool, you can achieve the following:
Every project required a detailed project planning. Switch to ProofHub to make your project successful.
- Collaborate on projects
- Internal & external communication
- Budget management
- Prioritize projects correctly
- Increase organization
- Set measurable milestones
- Break large tasks in smaller chunks
- Leave no detail overlooked
- Create a visual representation
- Put timelines on everything
How to plan a project?
Follow these 5 simple steps to create and plan your project:
Define key parameters
Start by creating a project plan outline for your project defining the structure of the project. Give it a simple and precise description to define the goals and objectives and who will be working on it.
- Identify major milestones
While you are building a project plan, you should forget setting milestones. Be clear of if something should be a task or a milestone in a project.
- Add sub-tasks and timelines
As you create tasks, break the tasks into manageable chunks. Specify estimated number of hours required to complete each sub-task to have a better control over the progress.
- Assign team members
When you have planned all your tasks and subtasks, let your team know their role and responsibilities. You can assign multiple assignees to a task.
- Add dependencies
When we know who will be working on what, introduce the dependencies to quickly set the whole schedule if someone slips off their tasks.
Are you ready?
Plan your next project in alignment with your goals and with tools that simply make sure that your projects are on track and on target.