Every project requires a detailed project planning and when it comes to planning a project, we are confused with exactly where to begin. There are lots of things on the plate: how long the tasks will take? Do we have the required resources? Will be able to meet the deliverables? Will client be happy? Creating a project plan will help us to form the basis of better understanding with do’s and don’t of our project. It will help us to identify better the needs of the project and what all needs to be done for the success of the project.
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What’s a perfect project plan?
A project plan, also known as a project management plan is something that makes the life a manager easy. It is basically a document that contains a project scope to take you from the current state to a desired future state. And how do you learn that? Keep reading to learn the steps to create a project plan that your team will completely love.
A well crafted project plan will answer most of your questions that would revolve around;
- Can it be done?
- Will it be finished on time?
- Will it work?
- What exactly will be delivered?
- How will it be delivered
- What if we change something?
- How much progress have we made?
- What if someone is unavailable?
Reasons why a project plan matters?
Keeping a project on track is just not easy. In order to keep a project on track, project management plan is essential. Here are some big reasons depicting the importance of a project plan.
- Provides milestones to track the progress of the project
- Defines project’s output and scope
- Forecast your resource requirement
- Clear all the processes
- Manages integration
- Enables you to baseline your project
A project plan is important to get everything and everyone on the same page. Before you start with creating a project plan for you need to understand the brief of what are the steps to create a project plan.
Steps to create a project plan
Do your homework
It is simple but true: Research is the first ultimate source that comes up with a new project. When you start with a new project, make sure you know all the facts and figures, the past and future of the scope of the project. Create a project plan by looking into the documents that related to the project. Read all the details, follow all the instructions and collect everything at a place. A good project management plan has all the information from stakeholders and clients that might be an important part of the project. So, plan it in a methodical way so you cover the following things when doing your homework;
- The goals of the project
- Your client’s needs and expectations
- The sponsor of the project
- The additional stakeholders
Get started with a clear direction for your project.
Define roles and responsibilities
Then comes the roles and responsibilities of everyone working on the project. Clearly define the work of your team members, who will be doing which tasks, and who on the project needs to approve which parts of the plan. The organizational structure should be kept simple and clear. Here is a checklist for different roles for your project;
- Project sponsor who need to review and approve all aspects of the plan.
- A business sponsor who approves the goals and objectives of project.
- Experts who will define their requirements for the end product.
- Project manager executes, and controls the project plan.
- Project team including user representative, vendor representative and who build the end product.
- Vendors for the supply of products and services to the project.
- End users looking at the development of the plan.
- Others like quality and risk analysts, auditors and so on.
Execute your plan in a project planning software
A project planning software has got everything you need to plan a project, execute it and iterate as and when needed. Project planning tool gives the option to add a project plan templates for projects having a similar structure. You can also use these templates to manage workloads and tasks to deliver projects on time. To achieve great things at work, a project planning tool will move your plan ahead and get work done faster. It will simplify the process of planning and bring teams together. With a tool, you can do the following things;
- Add custom roles to plan and work together with people
- Discuss great solutions together
- Plan at rapid speed with Gantt chart
- Assign responsibilities clearly with tasks
- Stay on top of deliverables and deadlines
- Customize your plans with workflows
Creating a project plan also includes finding the right mode of communication with your remote and in-house team. It makes a big difference between a strong team and a failed project. Find what you team expects, daily standup meetings and group chats through project management tools. Communication plan is important for every project as it collects such things;
- Who wants which media
- How will issues be solved
- Who is stuck at what task
- What the risk response will include
- What are the predicted uncertainties
- Who will communicate the content to stakeholder
- Process for changing the contents of the plan
Just remember that each project has a different communication impact, so have a good idea of the content of your plan.
Develop a Scope Statement
Obviously, project scope is another important part of any planning as it has direct impact on time and resources of a project. The scope statement discussed the basics of a project plan that includes product description, objectives (deliverables), constraints, cost estimates and some others. It describes the project and is used to get common agreement among the stakeholders about the scope. The Scope Statement describes what the outcome of the project will be. The Scope Statement should include:
- A brief description or project summary
- Project objective including what will occur within the project
- Benefits of completing the project
- Project deliverables including a list of results
- Key milestones, and other components depending on the nature of the project.
- Project assumptions with list that is true but needs to confirmed
- Project boundaries identifies the deliverables outside of the project’s scope
Thus, a scope statement establishes good communication between stakeholders and eliminates any risks of misunderstandings.
Deliverables and milestones are defined in a project to give the desired project results. It is specified by a due date and is tangible. Creating a project plan includes defining the deliverables to plan the timeline, budget and scope of a project. In order to meet the project goals, identify the deliverables you need to produce for your project.
Summary – Do you need a project plan?
Project plan is crucial to successful businesses. It gives the right vision, the right skills, and ensure projects are completed successfully. If you need a project plan for your new project, be ready with the above steps for the success of your project. Have a reasonable understanding of what the project intends to deliver. You will no longer face suffer and deliver what will be required of you.