What is a Project Plan?
If you’re considering a project plan, that’s great news! You’ve already had a project proposal approved. Creating a thorough plan is the next step in the process. The project plan outlines the course of work for each team member, while keeping the triple constraint of scope, schedule and budget in mind. Project plans describe the processes which will bring the proposal to life.
Delivering on a project can be made much easier through use of a project software. But first, let’s go over the five phases of a project. These five phases will need to be addressed by your project plan.
The Five Phases of a Project
- Conception and Initiation: During this phase you reiterate the project proposal or the business case. It’s also time to round out details of how you will deliver on the project and meet stakeholder demands.
- Definition and Planning: Project tasks are defined with scope in mind. Prioritization of tasks begins with each being listed in order of importance to the project. Budget estimations are laid out, and a schedule is created so all team members are aware of the resources and time available for work.
- Launch: Allocation of tasks and resources begins. Team members are notified of responsibilities. The work really begins here, but the plan is always nearby for reference to ensure things are staying on track. Changing and tweaking plans during a project is part of the process, so it’s great to have the plan nearby.
- Performance and Control: This is the monitoring portion of the plan. Team status updates are evaluated to ensure that project progress is aligning with predictions made early on. Reallocation of resources happens—if necessary—to keep the project on track, referencing the plan as a guide. Using real-time dashboards allow you to easily track progress of the project and keep an accurate picture.
- Closure: You’re almost to the finish line, but you’re not there just yet! Securing client approvals of work completed comes first, and this includes getting sign-off from all stakeholders involved in the project. Delivery of payments to contractors, vendors, and project team members has to happen. In general, closure is about cleanup duties. It’s about tying up loose ends to bring things to a positive conclusion.
How to Make a Project Plan
Project plans aren’t created just to be a high-level overview of how the project could unfold. Best-case scenario, they’re a reflection of how the project actually does unfold. Do these four things to help ensure that your project plan unfolds as expected.
- Create Task Lists: Create a task list and report that details steps for every task throughout the project. Then, prioritize this list to effectively assign team members and resources. Tasks vary in how essential they are to the project. As you prioritize tasks, it’s likely you’ll find some tasks that can be sacrificed completely to increase efficiency.
- Establish Duration: Once tasks have been compiled and prioritized, the next step is to establish how long they will take. Duration of tasks, here, will likely be an educated guess. No matter, it’s important to use all the tools you have available—including past experiences—to make the best possible estimation.
- Outline Dependencies: Not all tasks are the same. Some are dependent tasks. A dependent task is a task that can’t be started until another task has been completed. When crafting your project plan, it’s important to identify these dependent tasks from the outset. Dependent tasks can derail a project plan if too many team members are waiting for completion. It’s vital to note dependent tasks on your project plan so they can be linked. This linking shows team members the importance of one task being completed before another can be started.
- Develop a Resource Plan: Completing tasks on time requires the development of a resource plan. This is the final transitional step between project phases. Resources, in this context, include everything from team members, to office equipment, to the software you’ll use to plan and execute your project. It’s important to identify all resources so they can be managed effectively.